UCLA researchers seek adults with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ages 18 to 50, for a study aimed at identifying and evaluating the effects of a mindfulness program on brain biomarkers and symptoms of IBS.
Volunteers will receive a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to identify IBS biomarkers and participate in an eight-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction training program.
According to researchers, MBSR programs have been helpful in reducing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, as well as other types of chronic pain and stress. The program teaches the mind to be attentive and aware of the present moment, as well as taking a non-evaluative and non-judgmental approach to one's inner experiences.
"We are still learning how the brain is connected with the gut and we hope this study will help us identify and measure how IBS biomarkers and symptoms may be impacted by a targeted program to increase mindfulness," said principal investigator Dr. Kirsten Tillisch, associate professor of digestive diseases and a researcher at the Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
After an initial screening visit, volunteers will receive two MRI imaging sessions, one before and the other after completing the mindfulness training program, so researchers can assess any changes. During the imaging sessions, the research team will measure the resting state of the brain and will gauge brain changes in reaction to stimuli.
Volunteers cannot have a significant neurological or psychiatric history. Participants also need to be right-handed, which represents 90 percent of the population. In most people, the left hemisphere of the brain is dominant and controls the right side, which is why most people are right-handed. This will help during data analysis.
The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health and will take place at the Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress and the Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center at UCLA.
For more information, please call 310-206-1758. Volunteers will be paid up to $340 for their participation.