Purpose: The UCLA MAP Project is an innovative study to develop and evaluate the efficacy of mindful attention or mindfulness training as an intervention in attention deficiency hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, adolescents, and adults. ADHD is the most common neurobehavioral disorder, affecting 3 to 10% of school children and over 4% of adults.
Research over the past decade has demonstrated that mindful attention—the moment-by-moment process of actively attending to, observing, and drawing inferences from what one experiences—has a powerful role in the healing process for a variety of physical and mental illnesses. Such a role, however, has yet to be studied in ADHD.
The Mindful Attention Program (MAP) is designed to increase attentional focus and the self-regulation of attention through such mind training practices as single-pointed meditation, insight meditation, sensory awareness exercises, and practical strategies to increase awareness in daily activities. The UCLA MAP Project hopes to establish that the regular application of these tools can help those with ADHD gain greater self-regulation of brain and behavior, leading in turn to improved attention, reduced hyperactivity and impulsivity, and a reduction in other problems associated with the syndrome.
Design: The project is being developed by distinguished UCLA faculty in mental health, neuroscience, genetics, and philosophy, in active collaboration with colleagues at UC San Francisco. The Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies is co-sponsoring and participating in the design of this study. SBI founder and president B. Alan Wallace is serving as a consultant.
The project is developing age-appropriate tools for increasing awareness and mindful attention and is studying the effects of their application by differing ADHD populations, including children, adolescents, and adults. Clinical trials commenced in 2005.
Dissemination and Benefits: The study’s findings will be submitted for publication in major scientific journals. Given the current prevalence of and high degree of concern about ADHD, it is anticipated that these findings will then be taken up by the popular media. The first paper to be written on this project is “A Mindful Awareness Practice in Pre-K children improves Executive Function,” by Dr. Susan L. Smalley, and inquiries about this project may be sent to her at UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, 760 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095. Email: [email protected].