Sixteen patients underwent functional MRI while reacting to negative self-beliefs and while regulating negative emotions using 2 types of attention deployment emotion regulation: breath-focused attention (MBSR) and distraction-focused attention (counting backwards).

Compared with baseline, MBSR completers showed improvement in anxiety and depression symptoms and self-esteem. During the breath-focused attention task (but not the distraction-focused attention task), they also showed (a) decreased negative emotion experience, (b) reduced amygdala activity, and (c) increased activity in brain regions implicated in attentional deployment. MBSR training in patients with SAD may reduce emotional reactivity while enhancing emotion regulation.