MIT Study Confirms Link Between Calmer Choice and Better Academic Performance and Mental Health

MIT's McGovern Institute for Brain Research

A pivotal study recently released from MIT suggest that Calmer Choice’s mindfulness-based curriculum can enhance academic performance and mental health in middle schoolers, as well as reduce disciplinary actions like suspensions and decrease stress among participants. The study was led by John Gabrieli, the Grover M. Hermann Professor in Health Sciences and Technology, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences, and a member of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research.

The study was performed on students in the 6th grade who participated in Calmer Choice’s school-based program, administered in 2016 at Boston Collegiate Charter School in Dorchester.  40 of the participants also participated in the first ever brain imaging studies before and after the program. Both surveys of participants and results from the imaging study showed, for the first time, that mindfulness can alter brain activity in students.

Sixth-graders who received the Calmer Choice program not only reported feeling less stressed, but their brain scans revealed reduced activation of the amygdala, a brain region that processes fear and other emotions.

“Together, the findings suggest that offering mindfulness training in schools could benefit many students,” says Gabrieli, the senior author of the study.

Furthermore, the studies of Calmer Choice participants suggested that “mindfulness training could potentially help prevent or mitigate mood disorders linked with higher stress levels,” researchers say.

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About Calmer Choice - The mission of Calmer Choice is to teach young people and community members to effectively and safely manage stress and resolve conflict so that they live happy, healthy and successful lives. As a research-supported prevention program, our goal is to provide skills that will diminish the risk of violence, substance abuse, and other self-destructive behaviors. Ultimately, Calmer Choice envisions a world in which people lead lives of kindness and compassion towards themselves and others.

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