How does mindfulness modulate self-regulation in pre-adolescent children? An integrative neurocognitive review
Pre-adolescence is a key developmental period in which complex intrinsic volitional methods of self-regulation are acquired as a result of rapid maturation within the brain networks underlying the self-regulatory processes of attention control and emotion regulation. Fostering adaptive self-regulation skills during this stage of development has strong implications for physical health, emotional and socio-economic outcomes during adulthood. There is a growing interest in mindfulness-based programmes for pre-adolescents with initial findings suggesting self-regulation improvements, however, neurodevelopmental studies on mindfulness with pre-adolescents are scarce. This analytical review outlines an integrative neuro-developmental approach, which combines self-report and behavioural assessments with event related brain potentials (ERPs) to provide a systemic multilevel understanding of the neurocognitive mechanisms of mindfulness in pre-adolescence. We specifically focus on the N2, error related negativity (ERN), error positivity (Pe), P3a, P3b and late positive potential (LPP) ERP components as indexes of mindfulness related modulations in non-volitional bottom-up self-regulatory processes (salience detection, stimulus driven orienting and mind wandering) and volitional top-down self-regulatory processes (endogenous orienting and executive attention).