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Top. Brain networks associated with mind wandering and attention. The brain can be divided into two-large scale distributed network: the default mode network, in which is associated mind-wandering activity, and the attention network that is associated with focused states demanding attentional resourses. Down. The process of attention during meditation. A theoretical model of dynamic cognitive states experienced by a non-expert practioner during a session of meditation. When attempting to sustain focus (FOCUS) on an object (breathing, mantra, images, etc.), an individual inevitably loses this focus and experiences wandering of attention (MIND WANDERING). At some time during mind wandering, the practitioner becomes aware that his/her mind is not on the object (AWARENESS), at which point he/she disengages from current train of thought and shifts attention back to the object (SHIFT), where it stays focused again for some period of time (FOCUS). Whith practice, the time spent during the focused and conscious thought increases. There are various methods of meditation with a common experiential goal. It 's like climbing a mountain: there are several trails, slopes, ascent velocities and path lengths, but the summit is the same. Modified from Schmidt et al. [97].  

Top. Brain networks associated with mind wandering and attention. The brain can be divided into two-large scale distributed network: the default mode network, in which is associated mind-wandering activity, and the attention network that is associated with focused states demanding attentional resourses. Down. The process of attention during meditation. A theoretical model of dynamic cognitive states experienced by a non-expert practioner during a session of meditation. When attempting to sustain focus (FOCUS) on an object (breathing, mantra, images, etc.), an individual inevitably loses this focus and experiences wandering of attention (MIND WANDERING). At some time during mind wandering, the practitioner becomes aware that his/her mind is not on the object (AWARENESS), at which point he/she disengages from current train of thought and shifts attention back to the object (SHIFT), where it stays focused again for some period of time (FOCUS). Whith practice, the time spent during the focused and conscious thought increases. There are various methods of meditation with a common experiential goal. It 's like climbing a mountain: there are several trails, slopes, ascent velocities and path lengths, but the summit is the same. Modified from Schmidt et al. [97].  

Contexts in source publication

Context 1
... techniques are usually conducted with an attitude of intentionally directed or focused concentration and attention, which is called "mindful awareness". As a consequence, they have the potential to elicit the so- called "relaxation response", whose property is responsible for some of the observed clinical, medical or therapeutic effects of meditation, particularly in stress-associated diseases, including cardiovascular, immune, proinflammatory or neuroendocrine diseases, including anxiety or depression" (Figure 2). ...
Context 2
... summary, mediation can counteract stress at the mental [111], physical, physiological and molecular level [112], restoring and harmonizing the brain circuits [113,114], modifying the activity of the DMN [115] (Figure 2), and the neuro-immune- [116][117][118] endocrine [119] secretion.This particular state of consciousness induce temporal DNA transcriptome changes in energy metabolism, insulin secretion and inflammatory pathways [120]. This counteracts mononuclear cell activation due to psychosocial stress [121,122]. ...

Citations

... Starting from these backgrounds, we studied the impact of stress on cardiovascular diseases (76,86,(128)(129)(130)(131)(132)(133)(134)(135) and we applied some "traditional" knowledge to treat patients after myocardial infarction. Thanks to proper nutrition (Mediterranean diet) and food supplementation (131), to mild-moderate aerobic exercise (131) and stress management (through the use of mind-body disciplines as listening of music or meditation) we observed an initial regression of carotid atherosclerosis and improvement in coronary flow (136),as suggested also by others (137)(138)(139)(140)(141)(142)(143). ...
Article
This review starts describing traditional Mediterranean, Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine systems. Then, the “psycho-neuro-endocrine-immunology” paradigm is examined and reasons for its increasing popularity in biological and medical scientific sciences. In particular, we focus on how this paradigm helps to understand and integrate in a modern view some seminal observations and symbolic languages from the past. Thanks to current technological possibilities, the future challenge will be to conduct medical and biological forefront research, able to successfully integrate traditional medicine into the newest therapeutic schemes. In conclusion, we propose some epistemological considerations based on different examples of therapeutic integration.
... According to Benson's researches [18,29,30] and our previous study [26,27], there are no significant differences between relaxation techniques. Therefore, we merged into a single "intervention" group (called "RELAXATION RESPONSE") all patients treated with meditation and music and into a single "intervention healthy controls" group (called "RELAXATION RESPONSE HEALTHY CONTROLS") all healthy subjects. ...
... According to Benson's researches [18,29,30] and our previous study [26,27], there are no significant differences between relaxation techniques. Therefore, we merged into a single "intervention" group (called "RELAXATION RESPONSE") all patients treated with meditation and music and into a single "intervention healthy controls" group (called "RELAXATION RESPONSE HEALTHY CONTROLS") all healthy subjects. ...
Article
Full-text available
Stress appears to be the basis of many diseases, especially myocardial infarction. Events are not objectively “stressful” but what is central is how the individual structures the experience he is facing: the thoughts he produces about an event put him under stress. This cognitive process could be revealed by language (words and structure). We followed 90 patients with ischemic heart disease and 30 healthy volunteers, after having taught them the Relaxation Response (RR) as part of a 4-day Rational–Emotional–Education intervention. We analyzed with the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count software the words that the subjects used across the study following the progression of blood galectin-3 (inflammation marker) and malondialdehyde (oxidative stress marker). During the follow-up, we confirmed an acute and chronic decrease in the markers of inflammation and oxidative stress already highlighted in our previous studies together with a significant change in the use of language by the subjects of the RR groups. Our results and the precise design of our study would seem to suggest the existence of an intimate relationship and regulatory action by cognitive processes (recognizable by the type of language used) on some molecular processes in the human body.
... As stated, in order to rule out that the disease state could interfere with the relaxation effect, we enrolled 10 healthy volunteers (5 were trained to meditate and 5 had music appreciation). The practices of meditation and music appreciation are able to produce the so called Relaxation Response (RR) in the same way [3,28,29] . The details of the RR techniques that we used and the description of their pathophysiological mechanism is described in our previous works [2,3,29] . ...
... The practices of meditation and music appreciation are able to produce the so called Relaxation Response (RR) in the same way [3,28,29] . The details of the RR techniques that we used and the description of their pathophysiological mechanism is described in our previous works [2,3,29] . ...
... We emphasize that in our work we observed the RR using two conditioning techniques, meditation and music, which have to be considered as two ways leading to the same relaxation effect [29] . Therefore, even from a strictly methodological point of view, we used a unique technique -precisely the RR-, from which also the need to unite in a single "intervention group" the treated subjects. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
In our recent works we reported that physical and chemical characteristics of serum can vary in relation to the psychic activity of an individual depending on whether it is oriented to stress or relaxation. We wandered if these observations could be accompanied by an appreciable modification of the Ph, electric conductivity and Delayed Luminescence of the same serum samples. Our preliminary data may suggest that the serum pH could significantly increase during a Relaxation Response intervention while electric conductivity seems to decrease. Moreover, Delayed Luminescense could vary in the same subject according to the Relaxation Response practice. According to our proof of concept study, we postulate the appearance of a coherent system within the blood samples analyzed after the Relaxation Response. Further researches and some technical development are needed to support our preliminary findings.
... A preserved heart rate variability is considered a sign of heart health [47][48][49][50], which highlights an important role of emotions in the cardiovascular equilibrium [51]. Indeed, the psyche-brain-heart connection is an important element that explains many otherwise unexplainable phenomena such as sudden deaths, coronary heart disease with normal cholesterol [52][53][54], and why women although more protected in terms of events than men have a higher mortality risk [55]. The brainheart axis also explains why heart disorders affect brain functions (leading to stroke or cognitive dysfunction), and, on the contrary, psychoneurological pathologies (stroke, epilepsy, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, depression, anxiety, psychosis) are accompanied by heart abnormalities [52-54, 56, 57]. ...
... In addition to the well-known atrial natriuretic peptides (ANPs), cerebral natriuretic peptide (BNP) and C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP), many substances are produced and secreted into the blood by myocardial cells, fibroblasts, and endothelial and heart immune cells. All these molecules (called "cardiokines") maintain heart homeostasis and interact in cardiac remodeling in the context of acute or chronic cardiovascular affections [110], among others, the tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), beta-transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta), GDF-15 (growth differentiation factor-15), activin-A, myostatin, adrenomedullin, and endocannabinoids [52]. ...
... Thus, cardiovascular afferents have connections to a number of brain centers involved in emotion and stress perception including thalamus, hypothalamus, and amygdala. Broad evidence implicates anger along with other emotions and mental stress in playing a significant role in myocardial ischemia, arrhythmias, and sudden death [52]. Indeed, these brain areas are connected with visual and acoustic cerebral areas, and this explains how visual [84][85][86][87] or acoustic stressors [88] may alter heart function for bad and for good [89]. ...
Chapter
The heart can be viewed not just as muscle pump but also as an important checkpoint for a complex network of nervous, endocrine, and immune signals. The heart is able to process neurological signals independently from the brain and to crosstalk with the endocrine and immune systems. The heart communicates with the psyche through the neuro-endocrine-immune system in a highly integrated way, in order to maintain the homeostasis of the whole body with peculiarities specific to males and females. © 2018, Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature.
... Mental stress damages the brain [1] and the immune system [2,3] by affecting hormones and metabolism [4] and underlies many cardiovascular diseases [5][6][7], particularly myocardial infarction and its risk factors [8]. Many of the molecular mechanisms associated with such evidence are related to epigenetic markers that affect cellular activity in response to environmental or psychic stimuli [9]. ...
... The results presented reveal that the study of miRNAs and other epigenetic factors involved in many cardiovascular pathologies should take into account the action that the psyche constantly exercises on the epigenome network in order to avoid arbitrary associations. In fact, a condition of cellular oxidative stress, potentially triggered by mental stress [5][6][7], may lead to a wrong folding of proteins [50] with relative function deficits. Numerous genetic linkage studies that do not take into account the effects of mental stress on oxidative stress may have determined for different pathologies different gene-diseased protein associations that are completely arbitrary because the problem may not necessarily reside in coding information but in the environment where the transition to the quaternary-functional protein structure occurs. ...
... In conclusion, our work reveals that thoughts may constantly affect the expression of our genome and epigenome. Indeed, the practice of meditation or music appreciation, being able to downregulate stress axis activity (from brain cortical level to neuroendocrine and immunitary molecules [5][6][7]17]) seems to shape the levels of some important cardiovascular miRNAs. We described a possible epigenetic mechanism involving miRNAs, underlying the favorable cardiovascular epidemiological evidence related to the practice of the anti-stress methods considered. ...
Article
Introduction Mental stress is potentially a major cardiovascular risk factor. Meditation and listening to music may be able to compensate by eliciting the Relaxation Response (RR) with a beneficial prognostic impact after myocardial infarction (MI), reducing the progression of the arteriosclerotic process and improving coronary blood flow. We aimed to study a possible epigenetic mechanism of the RR speculating that circulating microRNAs levels could change during relaxation. Methods We enrolled 150 consecutive patients after MI. 50 were trained to meditate, 50 given music appreciation and 50 served as controls. In addition, in order to rule out that the disease state could interfere with the possible movement of microRNAs, we enrolled 50 healthy volunteers (25 were trained to meditate and 25 had music appreciation). After training, and after 60 days of RR practice, we studied the individual variation, before and after the relaxation session, of some important cardiovascular circulating microRNAs: the microRNA-1, −16, −24, −33, −92, −144, −146, −155. Results As the RR appeared to be triggered in the same way irrespective of whether this was by music or meditation data was combined. After the RR, a reduction in microRNA-16, −33, −92, −144, −146, −155 (p < 0.01) and an increase in the levels of microRNA-1 and −24 (p < 0.01) from baseline was observed both at the first observation and after 2 months. Conclusions The RR modulates some microRNAs levels suggesting that psychic activity may be an important epigenetic and pathophysiological factor in the arteriosclerotic process and in ischemic heart disease. In particular, the analyzed microRNAs levels seems to vary in relation to the state of stress or relaxation of the subjects.
... 1e3 Meditating and listening to classical music, are two techniques that are able to turn off the brain areas that carry stress signals (the so called Default Mode Network) which evoke the Relaxation Response (RR) 8 through specific areas of the brain (called Attention Network). 2,3 The RR is aroused when an individual focuses on a word, a sound or a song, a phrase, a repetitive prayer, or a movement, disregarding everyday thoughts. 9 These two steps break the mind wandering and train of thoughts of everyday life. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background Mental stress is one of the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Meditation and music listening are two techniques that are able to counteract it through the activation of specific brain areas, eliciting the so-called Relaxing Response (RR). Epidemiological evidence reveals that the RR practice has a beneficial prognostic impact on patients after myocardial infarction. We aimed to study the possible molecular mechanisms of RR underlying these findings. Methods We enrolled 30 consecutive patients after myocardial infarction and 10 healthy controls. 10 patients were taught to meditate, 10 to appreciate music and 10 did not carry out any intervention and served as controls. After training, and after 60 days of RR practice, we studied the individual variations, before and after the relaxation sessions, of the vital signs, the electrocardiographic and echocardiographic parameters along with coronary flow reserve (CFR) and the carotid's intima media thickness (IMT). Neuro-endocrine-immune (NEI) messengers and the expression of inflammatory genes (p53, Nuclear factor Kappa B (NfKB), and toll like receptor 4 (TLR4)) in circulating peripheral blood mononuclear cells were also all observed. Results The RR results in a reduction of NEI molecules (p < 0.05) and oxidative stress (p < 0.001). The expression of the genes p53, NFkB and TLR4 is reduced after the RR and also at 60 days (p < 0.001). The CFR increases with the relaxation (p < 0.001) and the IMT regressed significantly (p < 0.001) after 6 months of RR practice. Conclusions The RR helps to advantageously modulate the expression of inflammatory genes through a cascade of NEI messengers improving, over time, microvascular function and the arteriosclerotic process.
Article
Full-text available
Background and aim Mental stress represents a pivotal factor in cardiovascular diseases. The mechanism by which stress produces its deleterious effects is still under study, but one of the most explored pathways is inflammation-aging and cell senescence. In this scenario, circulating microRNAs appear to be regulatory elements of the telomerase activity and alternative splicing within the nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer (NF-κB) network. Anti-stress techniques appeared to be able to slow down the inflammatory and aging processes. As we recently verified, the practice of the relaxation response (RR) counteracted psychological stress and determined favorable changes of the NF-κB, p53, and toll-like receptor-4 (TLR-4) gene expression and in neurotransmitters, hormones, cytokines, and inflammatory circulating microRNAs. We aimed to verify a possible change in the serum levels of six other micro-RNAs of cardiovascular interest, involved in cell senescence and in the NF-κB network (miRNAs -20, -30, -410, -515, -134, and -183), and tested the activity of telomerase in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Experimental procedure We measured the aforementioned molecules in the serum of patients with ischemic heart disease (and healthy controls) immediately before and after a relaxation response session, three times (after the baseline), in one year of follow-up. Results According to our data, the miRNA-20 and -30 levels and PBMCs-telomerase activity increased during the RR while the -410 and -515 levels decreased. During the RR sessions, both miRNA-134 and -183 decreased. Conclusion The mediators considered in this exploratory work appeared to vary rapidly with the psychological activity (in particular when focused on relaxation techniques) showing that psychological activity should be part of the future research on epigenetics. Epistemological perspectives are also discussed.
Chapter
Congestive heart failure (CHF) is the inability of the heart to pump blood effectively throughout the body. Such dysfunction may concern myocardial contractility, the ventricular preload, the end-diastolic volume, an obstacle to cardiac ejection, or excessive afterload and heart rate. The main causes of heart failure are long-term hypertension, previous myocardial infarction, disorders of the heart valves, cardiomyopathies, and chronic lung disease. A condition of compensation can be precipitated by some aggravating factors such as increased metabolic demand, as in the case of thyrotoxicosis, anemia, arteriovenous shunt, fever, fluid overload, increased sodium intake, environmental temperature that is too high or too low, renal or hepatic failure, respiratory insufficiency, emotional stress, pregnancy, obesity, arrhythmias, pulmonary embolism, alcohol ingestion, nutrient deficiency, uncontrolled hypertensive states, and beta-blockers, anti-arrhythmic drugs, and sodium-retaining drugs such as steroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) [1].