Mar 19, 2015
The neuroscience of mindfulness meditation.
Nat Rev Neurosci. 2015 Mar 18;
Authors: Tang YY, Hölzel BK, Posner MI
Abstract. Research over the past two decades broadly supports the claim that mindfulness meditation - practiced widely for the reduction of stress and promotion of health - exerts beneficial effects on physical and mental health, and cognitive performance. Recent neuroimaging studies have begun to uncover the brain areas and networks that mediate these positive effects. However, the underlying neural mechanisms remain unclear, and it is apparent that more methodologically rigorous studies are required if we are to gain a full understanding of the neuronal and molecular bases of the changes in the brain that accompany mindfulness meditation.
Aug 03, 2014
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction as a Stress Management Intervention for Healthy Individuals: A Systematic Review
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction as a Stress Management Intervention for Healthy Individuals: A Systematic Review.
J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2014 Jul 22; Authors: Sharma M, Rush SE
Stress is a global public health problem with several negative health consequences, including anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, and suicide. Mindfulness-based stress reduction offers an effective way of reducing stress by combining mindfulness meditation and yoga in an 8-week training program. The purpose of this study was to look at studies from January 2009 to January 2014 and examine whether mindfulness-based stress reduction is a potentially viable method for managing stress. A systematic search from Medline, CINAHL, and Alt HealthWatch databases was conducted for all types of quantitative articles involving mindfulness-based stress reduction. A total of 17 articles met the inclusion criteria. Of the 17 studies, 16 demonstrated positive changes in psychological or physiological outcomes related to anxiety and/or stress. Despite the limitations of not all studies using randomized controlled design, having smaller sample sizes, and having different outcomes, mindfulness-based stress reduction appears to be a promising modality for stress management.
Feb 02, 2014
Effect of Meditation on Cognitive Functions in Context of Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases.
Front Behav Neurosci. 2014;8:17
Authors: Marciniak R, Sheardova K, Cermáková P, Hudeček D, Sumec R, Hort J
Abstract. Effect of different meditation practices on various aspects of mental and physical health is receiving growing attention. The present paper reviews evidence on the effects of several mediation practices on cognitive functions in the context of aging and neurodegenerative diseases. The effect of meditation in this area is still poorly explored. Seven studies were detected through the databases search, which explores the effect of meditation on attention, memory, executive functions, and other miscellaneous measures of cognition in a sample of older people and people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases. Overall, reviewed studies suggested a positive effect of meditation techniques, particularly in the area of attention, as well as memory, verbal fluency, and cognitive flexibility. These findings are discussed in the context of MRI studies suggesting structural correlates of the effects. Meditation can be a potentially suitable non-pharmacological intervention aimed at the prevention of cognitive decline in the elderly. However, the conclusions of these studies are limited by their methodological flaws and differences of various types of meditation techniques. Further research in this direction could help to verify the validity of the findings and clarify the problematic aspects.
Jan 23, 2014
Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on distressed (type D) personality traits: a randomized controlled trial.
J Behav Med. 2013 Aug;36(4):361-70
Authors: Nyklíček I, van Beugen S, Denollet J
Abstract. Distressed ('Type D') personality, the combination of negative affectivity (NA) and social inhibition (SI), has been associated with adverse health outcomes. The purpose of this study was to examine if an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program could reduce Type D personality characteristics. Distressed individuals from the Dutch general population (N = 146; mean age = 46.07; 69 % female) participated in a randomized trial comparing the mindfulness intervention with waitlist control. Although change in Type D caseness did not differ between groups, the intervention group showed stronger reductions for both NA (p < .001) and SI (p < .05) dimensions, even when change in state negative affect was statistically controlled. These effects were mediated by change in self-reported mindfulness. In conclusion, MBSR may reduce characteristics of the distressed personality type, likely through the mechanism of increased mindfulness.
Dec 24, 2013
A group of Polish engineers is working on a smart sleeping mask that they hope will allow people to get more out of their resting time, as well as allow for unusual sleeping schedules that would particularly benefit those who are often on-call. The NeuroOn mask will have an embedded EEG for brain wave monitoring, EMG for detecting muscle motion on the face, and sensors that can track whether your pupils are moving and whether they are going through REM. The team is currently raising money on Kickstarter where you can pre-order your own NeuroOn once it’s developed into a final product.
Sep 09, 2013
Effortless awareness: using real time neurofeedback to investigate correlates of posterior cingulate cortex activity in meditators' self-report
Effortless awareness: using real time neurofeedback to investigate correlates of posterior cingulate cortex activity in meditators' self-report.
Front Hum Neurosci. 2013;7:440
Authors: Garrison KA, Santoyo JF, Davis JH, Thornhill TA, Kerr CE, Brewer JA
Neurophenomenological studies seek to utilize first-person self-report to elucidate cognitive processes related to physiological data. Grounded theory offers an approach to the qualitative analysis of self-report, whereby theoretical constructs are derived from empirical data. Here we used grounded theory methodology (GTM) to assess how the first-person experience of meditation relates to neural activity in a core region of the default mode network-the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC). We analyzed first-person data consisting of meditators' accounts of their subjective experience during runs of a real time fMRI neurofeedback study of meditation, and third-person data consisting of corresponding feedback graphs of PCC activity during the same runs. We found that for meditators, the subjective experiences of "undistracted awareness" such as "concentration" and "observing sensory experience," and "effortless doing" such as "observing sensory experience," "not efforting," and "contentment," correspond with PCC deactivation. Further, the subjective experiences of "distracted awareness" such as "distraction" and "interpreting," and "controlling" such as "efforting" and "discontentment," correspond with PCC activation. Moreover, we derived several novel hypotheses about how specific qualities of cognitive processes during meditation relate to PCC activity, such as the difference between meditation and "trying to meditate." These findings offer novel insights into the relationship between meditation and mind wandering or self-related thinking and neural activity in the default mode network, driven by first-person reports.
Mar 31, 2012
Impact of meditation training on the default mode network during a restful state.
Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2012 Mar 24
Authors: Taylor VA, Daneault V, Grant J, Scavone G, Breton E, Roffe-Vidal S, Courtemanche J, Lavarenne AS, Marrelec G, Benali H, Beauregard M
Abstract. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to promote emotional stability. Moreover, during the processing of aversive and self-referential stimuli, mindful awareness is associated with reduced medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) activity, a central default mode network (DMN) component. However, it remains unclear whether mindfulness practice influences functional connectivity between DMN regions and, if so, whether such impact persists beyond a state of meditation. Consequently, this study examined the effect of extensive mindfulness training on functional connectivity within the DMN during a restful state. Resting-state data were collected from 13 experienced meditators (with over 1000 h of training) and 11 beginner meditators (with no prior experience, trained for 1 week before the study) using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Pairwise correlations and partial correlations were computed between DMN seed regions' time courses and were compared between groups utilizing a Bayesian sampling scheme. Relative to beginners, experienced meditators had weaker functional connectivity between DMN regions involved in self-referential processing and emotional appraisal. In addition, experienced meditators had increased connectivity between certain DMN regions (e.g. dorso-medial PFC and right inferior parietal lobule), compared to beginner meditators. These findings suggest that meditation training leads to functional connectivity changes between core DMN regions possibly reflecting strengthened present-moment awareness.
Dec 31, 2011
Improving spatial abilities through mindfulness: effects on the mental rotation task.
Conscious Cogn. 2011 Sep;20(3):801-6
Authors: Geng L, Zhang L, Zhang D
Abstract. In this study, we demonstrate a previously unknown finding that mindful learning can improve an individual's spatial cognition without regard to gender differences. Thirty-two volunteers participated in the experiment. Baselines for spatial ability were first measured for the reaction time on the mental rotation task. Next, the participants were randomly assigned to either a mindful or mindless learning condition. After learning, the mental rotation task showed that those in the mindful learning condition responded faster than those in the mindless learning condition. This study provides promising evidence for applying mindful learning to education.
Dec 19, 2011
Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: a review of empirical studies.
Clin Psychol Rev. 2011 Aug;31(6):1041-56
Authors: Keng SL, Smoski MJ, Robins CJ
Abstract. Within the past few decades, there has been a surge of interest in the investigation of mindfulness as a psychological construct and as a form of clinical intervention. This article reviews the empirical literature on the effects of mindfulness on psychological health. We begin with a discussion of the construct of mindfulness, differences between Buddhist and Western psychological conceptualizations of mindfulness, and how mindfulness has been integrated into Western medicine and psychology, before reviewing three areas of empirical research: cross-sectional, correlational research on the associations between mindfulness and various indicators of psychological health; intervention research on the effects of mindfulness-oriented interventions on psychological health; and laboratory-based, experimental research on the immediate effects of mindfulness inductions on emotional and behavioral functioning. We conclude that mindfulness brings about various positive psychological effects, including increased subjective well-being, reduced psychological symptoms and emotional reactivity, and improved behavioral regulation. The review ends with a discussion on mechanisms of change of mindfulness interventions and suggested directions for future research.
Jan 26, 2011
I stumbled over this site today: Do Nothing for 2 minutes.
The site presents the user with a very simple challenge: can you keep yourself from touching your computer for two minutes?
When the user enters the site a serene ocean view and the sound of waves displayed. The instructions ask to sit back and relax without touching your mouse or keyboard, and then a two minute timer begins counting down. If the user touches the mouse or the keyboard, a FAIL message appears, and the clock reset itself.
The site is very simple, but is gaining a lot of attention worldwide. In spite of its simplicity, I think that it includes interesting features: the provision of relaxing content “on demand”, the countdown, the feedback about compliance with task's instructions.
If any of you knows similar websites please post them in the comments!
Nov 10, 2010
Increased default mode network connectivity associated with meditation.
Neurosci Lett. 2010 Oct 26;
Authors: Jang JH, Jung WH, Kang DH, Byun MS, Kwon SJ, Choi CH, Kwon JS
Areas associated with the default mode network (DMN) are substantially similar to those associated with meditation practice. However, no studies on DMN connectivity during resting states have been conducted on meditation practitioners. It was hypothesized that meditators would show heightened functional connectivity in areas of cortical midline activity. Thirty-five meditation practitioners and 33 healthy controls without meditation experience were included in this study. All subjects received 4.68-min resting state functional scanning runs. The posterior cingulate cortex and medial prefrontal cortex were chosen as seed regions for the DMN map. Meditation practitioners demonstrated greater functional connectivity within the DMN in the medial prefrontal cortex area (x y z=3 39 -21) than did controls. These results suggest that the long-term practice of meditation may be associated with functional changes in regions related to internalized attention even when meditation is not being practiced.
Aug 24, 2010
Short-term meditation induces white matter changes in the anterior cingulate.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Aug 16;
Authors: Tang YY, Lu Q, Geng X, Stein EA, Yang Y, Posner MI
The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is part of a network implicated in the development of self-regulation and whose connectivity changes dramatically in development. In previous studies we showed that 3 h of mental training, based on traditional Chinese medicine (integrative body-mind training, IBMT), increases ACC activity and improves self-regulation. However, it is not known whether changes in white matter connectivity can result from small amounts of mental training. We here report that 11 h of IBMT increases fractional anisotropy (FA), an index indicating the integrity and efficiency of white matter in the corona radiata, an important white-matter tract connecting the ACC to other structures. Thus IBMT could provide a means for improving self-regulation and perhaps reducing or preventing various mental disorders.
Aug 16, 2010
There is nothing more regenerating than a long sea vacation. But what we do as we are back to the office and find an overwhelming pile of email? A good recovery strategy from post-vacation stress is essential, and advanced technologies may help.
For example, My Relax 3D is a mobile application that helps you relax while watching at stunning 3D landscapes of an exotic island. When you enter the application, you can choose between highly realistic 3d environments, depicting various island scenarios (i.e. a tropical forest, a sunset)
During the experience, a voiceover provides instructions to relieve from stress and develop positive emotions.
The application is highly configurable: it can be experienced with or without 3D glasses (but I strongly recommend this option to enhance your feeling of "presence"). It is also possible to choose between different pleasant music themes.
Of course, it's not like a first class holiday in a luxury resort... but it's definitely the best you can do with five bucks!
Feb 04, 2010
The exploration of meditation in the neuroscience of attention and consciousness.
Cogn Process. 2009 Dec 30;
Authors: Raffone A, Srinivasan N
Many recent behavioral and neuroscientific studies have revealed the importance of investigating meditation states and traits to achieve an increased understanding of cognitive and affective neuroplasticity, attention and self-awareness, as well as for their increasingly recognized clinical relevance. The investigation of states and traits related to meditation has especially pronounced implications for the neuroscience of attention, consciousness, self-awareness, empathy and theory of mind. In this article we present the main features of meditation-based mental training and characterize the current scientific approach to meditation states and traits with special reference to attention and consciousness, in light of the articles contributed to this issue.
Oct 20, 2009
The 'I' and the 'Me' in self-referential awareness: a neurocognitive hypothesis.
Cogn Process. 2009 Sep 11;
Authors: Tagini A, Raffone A
The nature of the 'self' and self-referential awareness has been one of the most debated issues in philosophy, psychology and cognitive neuroscience. Understanding the neurocognitive bases of self-related representation and processing is also crucial to research on the neural correlates of consciousness. The distinction between an 'I', corresponding to a subjective sense of the self as a thinker and causal agent, and a 'Me', as the objective sense of the self with the unique and identifiable features constituting one's self-image or self-concept, suggested by William James, has been re-elaborated by authors from different theoretical perspectives. In this article, empirical studies and theories about the 'I' and the 'Me' in cognition and self-related awareness are reviewed, including the relationships between self and perception, self and memory, the development of the self, self-referential stimulus processing, as well as related neuroimaging studies. Subsequently, the relations between self and different aspects of consciousness are considered. On the basis of the reviewed literature and with reference to Block's distinction between phenomenal and access consciousness, a neurocognitive hypothesis is formulated about 'I'-related and 'Me'-related self-referential awareness. This hypothesis is extended to metacognitive awareness and a form of non-transitive consciousness, characteristic of meditation experiences and studies, with particular reference to the notion of mindfulness and other Buddhist constructs.
Jul 01, 2009
Positive impact of cyclic meditation on subsequent sleep.
Med Sci Monit. 2009 Jul;15(7):CR375-381
Authors: Patra S, Telles S
Background: Cyclic meditation (CM) is a technique that combines yoga postures interspersed with supine rest. This combination is based on ancient texts and is considered easier for beginners to practice. Material/Methods: Whole-night polysomnographic measures and the self-rating of sleep were studied on the night following a day in which 30 male participants practiced CM twice (ca. 23 minutes each time). This was compared with another night when they had had two sessions of supine rest (SR) of equal duration on the preceding day. The sessions were one day apart and the order of the sessions was randomized. Recordings were from the F4, C4, and O2 electrode sites referenced to linked earlobes and bipolar electroculography and electromyography sites. Results: In the night following CM, the percentage of slow-wave sleep (SWS) was significantly higher than in the night following SR, whereas the percentage of rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep and the number of awakenings per hour were less. Following CM the self-rating of sleep based on visual analog scales showed an increase in the feeling that the sleep was refreshing, an increase in feeling "good" in the morning, an overall increase in sleep duration, and decreases in the degree to which sleep was influenced by being in a laboratory as well as any associated discomfort. Conclusions: Practicing cyclic meditation twice a day appeared to improve the objective and subjective quality of sleep on the following night.
Mar 31, 2009
The underlying anatomical correlates of long-term meditation: larger hippocampal and frontal volumes of gray matter.
Neuroimage. 2009 Apr 15;45(3):672-8
Authors: Luders E, Toga AW, Lepore N, Gaser C
Although the systematic study of meditation is still in its infancy, research has provided evidence for meditation-induced improvements in psychological and physiological well-being. Moreover, meditation practice has been shown not only to benefit higher-order cognitive functions but also to alter brain activity. Nevertheless, little is known about possible links to brain structure. Using high-resolution MRI data of 44 subjects, we set out to examine the underlying anatomical correlates of long-term meditation with different regional specificity (i.e., global, regional, and local). For this purpose, we applied voxel-based morphometry in association with a recently validated automated parcellation approach. We detected significantly larger gray matter volumes in meditators in the right orbito-frontal cortex (as well as in the right thalamus and left inferior temporal gyrus when co-varying for age and/or lowering applied statistical thresholds). In addition, meditators showed significantly larger volumes of the right hippocampus. Both orbito-frontal and hippocampal regions have been implicated in emotional regulation and response control. Thus, larger volumes in these regions might account for meditators' singular abilities and habits to cultivate positive emotions, retain emotional stability, and engage in mindful behavior. We further suggest that these regional alterations in brain structures constitute part of the underlying neurological correlate of long-term meditation independent of a specific style and practice. Future longitudinal analyses are necessary to establish the presence and direction of a causal link between meditation practice and brain anatomy.
Nov 12, 2008
Attending to the present: mindfulness meditation reveals distinct neural modes of self-reference.
Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2007 Dec;2(4):313-322
Authors: Farb NA, Segal ZV, Mayberg H, Bean J, McKeon D, Fatima Z, Anderson AK
It has long been theorised that there are two temporally distinct forms of self-reference: extended self-reference linking experiences across time, and momentary self-reference centred on the present. To characterise these two aspects of awareness, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine monitoring of enduring traits ('narrative' focus, NF) or momentary experience ('experiential' focus, EF) in both novice participants and those having attended an 8 week course in mindfulness meditation, a program that trains individuals to develop focused attention on the present. In novices, EF yielded focal reductions in self-referential cortical midline regions (medial prefrontal cortex, mPFC) associated with NF. In trained participants, EF resulted in more marked and pervasive reductions in the mPFC, and increased engagement of a right lateralised network, comprising the lateral PFC and viscerosomatic areas such as the insula, secondary somatosensory cortex and inferior parietal lobule. Functional connectivity analyses further demonstrated a strong coupling between the right insula and the mPFC in novices that was uncoupled in the mindfulness group. These results suggest a fundamental neural dissociation between two distinct forms of self-awareness that are habitually integrated but can be dissociated through attentional training: the self across time and in the present moment.
Nov 03, 2008
Circadian Modulation of Mentally Simulated Motor Actions: Implications for the Potential Use of Motor Imagery in Rehabilitation.
Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2008 Oct 30;
Authors: Gueugneau N, Mauvieux B, Papaxanthis C
BACKGROUND: . Mental practice through motor imagery improves subsequent motor performance and thus mental training is considered to be a potential tool in neuromotor rehabilitation. OBJECTIVE: . The authors investigated whether a circadian fluctuation of the motor imagery process occurs, which could be relevant in scheduling mental training in rehabilitation programs. METHODS: . The executed and imagined durations of walking and writing movements were recorded every 3 hours from 8 am to 11 pm in healthy participants. The authors made a cosinor analysis on the temporal features of these movements to detect circadian rhythms. Temporal differences between executed and imagined movements as well as their variability during the day were also quantified. RESULTS: . Circadian rhythms were detected for both the executed and the imagined movements. Furthermore, these rhythms covaried between them and with body temperature. The participants' ability to internally simulate their movements also fluctuated significantly during the day. The isochrony between the executed and the imagined movements was exclusively observed between 2 pm and 8 pm. In the morning (8 am and 11 am) and the evening (11 pm), the durations of the imagined movements were significantly longer than the durations of executed movements. CONCLUSIONS: . Predictive internal models fluctuate in a circadian basis, as do many other physiological parameters. It could be important to take into consideration the time of day in the planning of rehabilitation programs using physical or mental training.
Open hearts build lives: positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources.
J Pers Soc Psychol. 2008 Nov;95(5):1045-62
Authors: Fredrickson BL, Cohn MA, Coffey KA, Pek J, Finkel SM
B. L. Fredrickson's (1998, 2001) broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions asserts that people's daily experiences of positive emotions compound over time to build a variety of consequential personal resources. The authors tested this build hypothesis in a field experiment with working adults (n = 139), half of whom were randomly-assigned to begin a practice of loving-kindness meditation. Results showed that this meditation practice produced increases over time in daily experiences of positive emotions, which, in turn, produced increases in a wide range of personal resources (e.g., increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, decreased illness symptoms). In turn, these increments in personal resources predicted increased life satisfaction and reduced depressive symptoms. Discussion centers on how positive emotions are the mechanism of change for the type of mind-training practice studied here and how loving-kindness meditation is an intervention strategy that produces positive emotions in a way that outpaces the hedonic treadmill effect.