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Aug 24, 2010

Short-term meditation induces white matter changes in the anterior cingulate

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.

Feb 04, 2010

The exploration of meditation in the neuroscience of attention and consciousness

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

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.

Apr 15, 2007

Effects of meditation on frontal alpha-asymmetry in previously suicidal individuals

Effects of meditation on frontal alpha-asymmetry in previously suicidal individuals.

Neuroreport. 2007 May 7;18(7):709-12

Authors: Barnhofer T, Duggan D, Crane C, Hepburn S, Fennell MJ, Williams JM

This study investigated the effects of a meditation-based treatment for preventing relapse to depression, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), on prefrontal alpha-asymmetry in resting electroencephalogram (EEG), a biological indicator of affective style. Twenty-two individuals with a previous history of suicidal depression were randomly assigned to either MBCT (N=10) or treatment-as-usual (TAU, N=12). Resting electroencephalogram was measured before and after an 8-week course of treatment. The TAU group showed a significant deterioration toward decreased relative left-frontal activation, indexing decreases in positive affective style, while there was no significant change in the MBCT group. The findings suggest that MBCT can help individuals at high risk for suicidal depression to retain a balanced pattern of baseline emotion-related brain activation.