Catherine Spann
Research Affiliate • Former Research Associate • Former Post-Doc
Institute of Cognitive Science • D'Mello Lab

Research Overview

Supported by the Mind and Life Institute, my current research investigates the effects of controlled breathing practices on psychophysiological and psychological outcomes. This project is a pilot study designed to examine the effect of one specific breathing practice—coherent breathing (gentle breathing paced at five breaths per minute)—on heart rate variability, perceived stress, and emotion regulation. Breathing practices are used in contexts ranging from elementary school education to professional sports, yet there are few guidelines for healthy individuals regarding types of practices, how often to practice, and adverse consequences that may result from the practice. By conducting an experimental study of controlled breathing, the proposed project represents a critical step toward meeting this need. 


I am a Research Psychologist who specializes in executive functioning and emotion regulation. I received my Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Texas at Arlington. My current research examines the effects of controlled breathing practices on stress and emotion regulation. I've taught university courses in social, cognitive, and abnormal psychology as well as statistics, and I've taught cognitive neuroscience to Buddhist Monks at Sera Mey Monastery in India. I co-instruct the free online course with over 20,000 students called The Science and Practice of Yoga. I'm also a certified breath coach and yoga instructor.