Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Laura Swain

Second Advisor

Jane Stafford

Third Advisor

Bridget Cho


Objective: The current study investigated the effects of a 15-minute mindfulness meditation on mu suppression during a pain empathy task to determine if mindfulness meditation can impact empathy and its neural correlates. The current study also included a behavioral portion to investigate the effect of mindfulness meditation on self-report empathy for pain.

Method: In the EEG portion of the study, 50 Participants were enrolled in the EEG portion of this task, and 31 for the behavioral portion. Both groups were randomly assigned to listen to a 15-minute mindfulness meditation, or a control recording. Both groups completed a pain empathy task. In the EEG study, the dependent variable was mu-rhythm to the painful images during the task. In the behavioral study, the dependent variable was the perceived pain rating of each image shown. Participants also completed surveys to gather information on trat mindfulness (FFMQ-15), state mindfulness following the manipulation (TMS) trait empathy (EQ), and perceived childhood emotional invalidation (ICES).

Results: It was found that there was no difference between groups in mu-rhythm suppression. There was however a nearly significant correlation between decentering state mindfulness scores and mu-rhythm suppression. There was also no difference found between groups in the behavioral study for ratings of pain empathy, although there was a significant relationship between curiosity state mindfulness scores and pain empathy ratings.

Conclusion: This finding shines a light on the potential relationship between state mindfulness in the forms of decentering and curiosity following a brief mindfulness meditation and empathy and should be further investigated. This finding suggests that increases of decentering and curiosity may play a role in increasing empathy.