Article

Stress reduction correlates with structural changes in the amygdala.

Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 5.88). 09/2009; 5(1):11-7. DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsp034
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Stress has significant adverse effects on health and is a risk factor for many illnesses. Neurobiological studies have implicated the amygdala as a brain structure crucial in stress responses. Whereas hyperactive amygdala function is often observed during stress conditions, cross-sectional reports of differences in gray matter structure have been less consistent. We conducted a longitudinal MRI study to investigate the relationship between changes in perceived stress with changes in amygdala gray matter density following a stress-reduction intervention. Stressed but otherwise healthy individuals (N = 26) participated in an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention. Perceived stress was rated on the perceived stress scale (PSS) and anatomical MR images were acquired pre- and post-intervention. PSS change was used as the predictive regressor for changes in gray matter density within the bilateral amygdalae. Following the intervention, participants reported significantly reduced perceived stress. Reductions in perceived stress correlated positively with decreases in right basolateral amygdala gray matter density. Whereas prior studies found gray matter modifications resulting from acquisition of abstract information, motor and language skills, this study demonstrates that neuroplastic changes are associated with improvements in a psychological state variable.

0 Followers
 · 
146 Views
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The aim of this article is to discuss how advanced practice nurses (APNs) can incorporate mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) as a nonpharmacologic clinical tool in their practice. Over the last 30 years, patients and providers have increasingly used complementary and holistic therapies for the nonpharmacologic management of acute and chronic diseases. Mindfulness-based interventions, specifically MBSR, have been tested and applied within a variety of patient populations. There is strong evidence to support that the use of MBSR can improve a range of biological and psychological outcomes in a variety of medical illnesses, including acute and chronic pain, hypertension, and disease prevention. This article will review the many ways APNs can incorporate MBSR approaches for health promotion and disease/symptom management into their practice. We conclude with a discussion of how nurses can obtain training and certification in MBSR. Given the significant and growing literature supporting the use of MBSR in the prevention and treatment of chronic disease, increased attention on how APNs can incorporate MBSR into clinical practice is necessary. © The Author(s) 2015.
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Mindfulness meditation is increasingly used in health interventions and may reduce stress and blood pressure. We aimed to investigate the effectiveness of brief mindfulness meditation in reducing cardiovascular reactivity and recovery during a laboratory stressor. We randomly assigned 62 meditation-naïve participants to a mindfulness meditation group or a matched non-mindful listening exercise control group. There were no differences between groups in blood pressure, demographic, or mood variables at baseline. Mindfulness participants showed lower systolic blood pressure following the mindfulness exercise and decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure reactivity during a speeded math stressor. Specifically, as the stressor progressed, blood pressure in the mindfulness group began to decrease, whereas in the control group, it continued to increase. There were no group differences during recovery. Overall, brief mindfulness meditation reduced cardiovascular reactivity to stress and may be an effective intervention for reducing stress-related blood pressure reactivity.
    Mindfulness 01/2014; DOI:10.1007/s12671-014-0320-4
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Recent studies have shown that meditation inhibits or relieves pain perception. To clarify the underlying mechanisms for this phenomenon, neuroimaging methods, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, and neurophysiological methods, such as magnetoencephalography and electroencephalography, have been used. However, it has been difficult to interpret the results, because there is some paradoxical evidence. For example, some studies reported increased neural responses to pain stimulation during meditation in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and insula, whereas others showed a decrease in these regions. There have been inconsistent findings to date. Moreover, in general, since the activities of the ACC and insula are correlated with pain perception, the increase in neural activities during meditation would be related to the enhancement of pain perception rather than its reduction. These contradictions might directly contribute to the 'mystery of meditation.' In this review, we presented previous findings for brain regions during meditation and the anatomical changes that occurred in the brain with long-term meditation training. We then discussed the findings of previous studies that examined pain-related neural activity during meditation. We also described the brain mechanisms responsible for pain relief during meditation, and possible reasons for paradoxical evidence among previous studies. By thoroughly overviewing previous findings, we hypothesized that meditation reduces pain-related neural activity in the ACC, insula, secondary somatosensory cortex, and thalamus. We suggest that the characteristics of the modulation of this activity may depend on the kind of meditation and/or number of years of experience of meditation, which were associated with paradoxical findings among previous studies that investigated pain-related neural activities during meditation.
    Frontiers in Psychology 12/2014; 5:1489. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01489 · 2.80 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Download
55 Downloads
Available from
Jun 1, 2014