Elizabeth A. Stanley, PhD

Research About MMFT®

Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training (MMFT)® has been tested through rigorous neuroscience and stress physiology research, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and other foundations. Since 2008, we’ve conducted four studies with combat troops preparing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan—with results published in top-tier scientific journals. (See the tiles below. Full-text is available on ResearchGate.)

In these studies, troops who received variants of the 8-week MMFT course showed several improvements, including better cognitive performance and a more efficient stress response. These findings are notable, because the pre-deployment training period had previously been linked with cognitive declines, more anxiety, and higher perceived stress levels.

Some of MMFT’s documented benefits (and how we measured them):

  • Improved Cognitive Performance

    Cognitive Tests


    • Improvements in sustained attention
    • Improvements in working memory capacity (WMC)—with higher WMC linked with fewer negative emotions
    • Protection against working memory degradation
  • Better Physiological  Self-Regulation, Improved Sleep, and Resilience

    Heart Rate, Breathing Rate, Blood Biomarkers

    • More efficient stress arousal during combat drills, to a higher peak, with a quicker and more complete recovery afterwards
    • Lower blood concentrations of neuropeptide Y (NPY) after combat drills, meaning a faster return to baseline after stress arousal. NPY is a biomarker of resilience
    • Improved sleep quality—from longer sleep duration and reduced use of sleep aids and medications
  • Better Regulation of Negative Emotions

    Stressful Tasks During Functional Brain Imaging

    • Shifts in activation patterns of the brain regions associated with emotion regulation, impulse control, and pain distress regulation
    • Fewer negative emotions
    • Lower perceived stress levels—despite the objective increase in stressors during pre-deployment training