Mindfulness training disrupts Pavlovian conditioning

Physiol Behav. 2019 May 15;204:151-154. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2019.02.028. Epub 2019 Feb 23.


Classical conditioning is a quintessential learning process; however, maladaptive forms of conditioning sustain many unhealthy behaviors (e.g., addiction). Mindfulness training is theorized to de-automatize conditioned behavior by decoupling stimulus and response. This study assessed the effect of mindfulness training on conditioned behavior during a classical conditioning task. Findings indicated mindfulness training decreased classically conditioned behavior relative to an active control condition, delaying the onset of first conditioned response and decreasing conditioned response frequency. Thus, mindfulness training may be one method of increasing volitional control over maladaptive conditioned behaviors that contribute to the development and maintenance of clinical disorders.

Keywords: Behavioral therapy; Classical conditioning; Meditation; Mindfulness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blinking
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Extinction, Psychological
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mindfulness*
  • Young Adult