Mechanism of white matter changes induced by meditation

Department of Psychology, Texas Tech Neuroimaging Institute, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.67). 06/2012; 109(26):10570-4. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1207817109
Source: PubMed


Using diffusion tensor imaging, several recent studies have shown that training results in changes in white matter efficiency as measured by fractional anisotropy (FA). In our work, we found that a form of mindfulness meditation, integrative body-mind training (IBMT), improved FA in areas surrounding the anterior cingulate cortex after 4-wk training more than controls given relaxation training. Reductions in radial diffusivity (RD) have been interpreted as improved myelin but reductions in axial diffusivity (AD) involve other mechanisms, such as axonal density. We now report that after 4-wk training with IBMT, both RD and AD decrease accompanied by increased FA, indicating improved efficiency of white matter involves increased myelin as well as other axonal changes. However, 2-wk IBMT reduced AD, but not RD or FA, and improved moods. Our results demonstrate the time-course of white matter neuroplasticity in short-term meditation. This dynamic pattern of white matter change involving the anterior cingulate cortex, a part of the brain network related to self-regulation, could provide a means for intervention to improve or prevent mental disorders.

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    • "Several studies have reported support for the presented chain of changes within our brains when positively interacting with other humans. For example, Tang et al. (2012) reported that a four-week mindfulness meditation programme increased axonal density and myelinisation in the anterior cingulate cortex. Iacoboni (2008) has further proposed that super mirror neurons then help us to differentiate the source of these sensations as originating in our experience or in the other's experience. "
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    • "Cognitive training provided by remedial reading for 100 hours (Keller & Just 2009) increased FA and decreased RD in poor readers, suggesting that myelination was the predominant process responsible for increased FA. In contrast, 4 weeks of mindfulness meditation led to AD and RD reductions accompanied by increased FA values, indicating the involvement of increased myelin as well as other axonal changes (Tang et al. 2012). IGD subjects have typically been gaming for significant time periods, requiring substantial cognitive work. "
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    • "g that required WM function induced a decrease in regional gray matter volume in the WM - related regions , which could be attributed to the usage - dependent selective elimination of synapses ( Takeuchi et al . , 2011 ) . A meditation training increased white matter efficiency in areas surrounding the ACC that is implicated in cognitive control ( Tang et al . , 2012 ) . Furthermore , a logical reasoning training gain to fluid intelligence was associated with an increase in structural integrity in corpus and genu of the corpus callosum , which connect between homologous cortical areas of the two hemispheres and are considered to be involved in executive functions and WM ( Wolf et al . , 2014 ) . Tak"
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