UCF Student Shows Meditation Could Treat PTSD


Michelle Aiello with her award at the SACNAS conference.

University of Central Florida Department of Psychology student Michelle Aiello recently won the Student Presentation Award at the annual conference of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).

Aiello, an undergraduate student slated to graduate in spring of 2017, serves as secretary for the SACNAS chapter at UCF. Her presentation titled “Changes in Autonomic Nervous System Functioning Associated with Compassion Meditation Among Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” was based on research that she had been conducting for two years. This research was a part of the Summer Training Academy for Research Success program at the University of California San Diego.

The research detailed the effect of meditation on military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Aiello researched how the act of meditation affected the participants’ heart rates. She described the work as being an alternative or complementary to traditional medical treatments for PTSD.

“The literature has found that empirically based treatments might not be optimal for all veterans,” Aiello said. “Past research found individuals who increase compassion meditation practice reported lower physiological stress during stressful situations.”

The psychology student hopes to study more on the subject in the future. She wants to eventually earn a doctoral degree in clinical psychology and continue to study alternative or complementary methods for treatment of PTSD for veterans.

Aiello is also part of the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement program. The program is designed to prepare either first-generation college students or traditionally underrepresented college students for doctoral studies. She said that she is grateful for her time at UCF.

Aiello said “my favorite thing about UCF is the immense opportunities I gained throughout my undergraduate career. I have always received constant support and guidance from my peers, mentors, and professors.”

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