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Durham University

Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Previous Events

Joint Guest Lecture between Belief, Understanding & Wellbeing theme and St Cuthbert's Society - Retraining our Brains to be More Resilient

14th May 2014, 11:30 to 13:45, SCR, St Cuthbert's Society, 12 South Bailey, Durham, DH1 3EE, Dr Cynthia Stonnington, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Mayo Clinic, Arizona


A joint guest lecture between the WRIHW theme of Belief, Understanding & Wellbeing and St Cuthbert’s Society.


Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from adversity, sustain positive engagement in the midst of hardship or stress, and to learn and grow from the experience. Resilient people appear better able to buffer a variety of stressors with better medical outcomes than those with less resilience. Researchers can use brain imaging to show structural and functional differences between people who do and do not develop stress-related symptoms. Evidence also supports the notion that several aspects of resilience can be taught and that these interventions change brain structure and function. One of the most studied strategies to enhance effective responses to stress is Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). We have tested a modified version of MBSR that also incorporates other principles from the resilience literature, called Mindfulness Based Resilience Training (MBRT). Preliminary evidence shows MBRT to be a helpful intervention for both medically ill and healthy populations. 

Educational objectives of this talk:

  • Discuss neurobiology of stress and resilience
  • Review the latest evidence from mindfulness research
  • Describe the key concepts of MBRT
  • Report outcomes from MBRT in cancer and transplant patients
  • Practice a typical mindfulness meditation and discuss the experience


Dr. Cynthia Stonnington is Associate Professor of Psychiatry and the Chair of Psychiatry & Psychology at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. She completed medical school at Mayo Medical School in Rochester, MN; her residency training in Psychiatry at Stanford University Medical Center; and a Clinical Research Fellowship in brain imaging at University College London’s Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging. Her research interests include: Applying neuroimaging methods to predict cognitive decline; exploring the neuropsychiatric underpinnings of psychosomatic illness; and identifying and testing interventions that can help patients increase their resiliency in the face of illness or its risk. 


It is essential to book your place as places are limited to 35 and for catering purposes. A light lunch will follow the talk. Please click here to take you to the online booking form. 

Contact for more information about this event.