Functional Brain Mapping of the Relaxation Response and Meditation

Abstract and Figures

Meditation is a conscious mental process that induces a set of integrated physiologic changes termed the relaxation response. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to identify and characterize the brain regions that are active during a simple form of meditation. Significant (p<10(-7)) signal increases were observed in the group-averaged data in the dorsolateral prefrontal and parietal cortices, hippocampus/parahippocampus, temporal lobe, pregenual anterior cingulate cortex, striatum, and pre- and post-central gyri during meditation. Global fMRI signal decreases were also noted, although these were probably secondary to cardiorespiratory changes that often accompany meditation. The results indicate that the practice of meditation activates neural structures involved in attention and control of the autonomic nervous system.
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0959-4965 &Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Vol 11 No 7 15 May 2000 1581
Functional brain mapping of the relaxation
response and meditation
Sara W. Lazar,1,2,CA George Bush,1,2 Randy L. Gollub,1,2 Gregory L. Fricchione,3,5 Gurucharan Khalsa
and Herbert Benson4,5
1Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital-East, CNY-9, 149 13th Street,
Charlestown, MA 02129; 2NMR Center, MGH-East, CNY-9, Charlestown, MA 02129; 3Department of Psychiatry, Brigham and
Women's Hospital; 4Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School; 5Mind/Body
Medical Institute, Boston, MA 02115, USA
CA,1Corresponding Author and Address
Received 15 February 2000; accepted 5 March 2000
Acknowledgements: Supported by the Mind-Body Medical Institute, Clinical Research Training Grant (5T32MH016259), NIDA
00275, NIMH 01611, NARSAD, The Forrest C. Lattner Foundation, Inc. The authors also wish to thank Terry Campell, Bruce
Rosen, Julie Bates, Ary Goldberger, Joe Meitus, Jeff Hausdorf and our intrepid subjects.
Meditation is a conscious mental process that induces a set of
integrated physiologic changes termed the relaxation response.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to
identify and characterize the brain regions that are active
during a simple form of meditation. Signi®cant ( p,10ÿ7) signal
increases were observed in the group-averaged data in the
dorsolateral prefrontal and parietal cortices, hippocampus/
parahippocampus, temporal lobe, pregenual anterior cingulate
cortex, striatum, and pre- and post-central gyri during medita-
tion. Global fMRI signal decreases were also noted, although
these were probably secondary to cardiorespiratory changes
that often accompany meditation. The results indicate that the
practice of meditation activates neural structures involved in
attention and control of the autonomic nervous system.
NeuroReport 11:1581±1585 &2000 Lippincott Williams &
Key words: fMRI; Meditation; Neuroimaging; Relaxation response; Respiration; Stress
Meditation (observing the breath and passively ignoring
everyday thoughts) is one technique that induces a set of
integrated physiological changes termed the relaxation
response and is effective as a complementary treatment for
many diseases [1± 5]. Despite the successful use of relaxa-
tion response-based treatments, few studies have ad-
dressed the neurobiological underpinnings of meditation.
The practice of meditation induces a hypometabolic state
characterized by decreases in many physiological measures
[6± 8] as well as by changes in EEG pattern [7±9]. These
EEG changes are different from those associated with sleep
[6± 10], and suggest that while subjects are deeply relaxed
and have decreased peripheral activity, they are engaged
in an active mental state requiring intense neural activity.
This is in agreement with subjective reports of experienced
meditators [11,12].
Functional neuroimaging techniques offer an opportu-
nity to observe changes in regional brain activity and blood
¯ow during meditation. A recent PET study comparing
four different forms of meditation found that the inferior
frontal, fusiform, occipital and postcentral gyri all had
increased activity during a pooled average of meditative
states relative to a control condition [13]. Other studies
have reported increases in cerebral blood ¯ow to frontal
cortex during transcendental and yoga meditation practice
[14,15], in accordance with reports of increased frontal
alpha activity seen with EEG [6,7].
In this study we sought to apply the powerful imaging
capabilities of high ®eld strength fMRI to identify foci of
activity that are modulated by a very simple form of
meditation. Concomitant measures of cardiorespiratory
activity were also recorded in two subjects to determine
whether changes in these measures could potentially in¯u-
ence the fMRI data. We hypothesized that neural structures
that have a role in attention and arousal would be
activated during meditation (which requires focusing at-
tention on breathing and repeating a particular phrase),
and that the fully developed relaxation response would
differ from the early (induction) stage of meditation.
Subjects: Informed consent was obtained as per Massa-
chusetts General Hospital Human Research Committee
guidelines. Five right-handed subjects (four male) aged
22± 45 participated. None had a history of psychiatric
disease. Each had practiced Kundalini meditation daily for
at least 4 years.
Meditation protocol: Subjects performed a simple form of
Kundalini meditation in which they passively observed
their breathing and silently repeated the phrase `sat nam'
during inhalations and `wahe guru' during exhalations.
During the control state they silently generated a random
list of animals and did not observe their breathing. Two
12 min meditation epochs were preceded by a 6 min control
epoch during each 42 min scan (Fig. 1d). Four subjects
underwent two scans during a single session, while the
®fth subject was scanned only once. An audio tape of the
of the sound of the scanner was provided to each subject
prior to their scan, as well as a written description of the
experiment. They were instructed to practice the mantra
with the tape until they could comfortably achieve a
meditative state, despite the beeping sound of the scanner.
On the day of the scan, the subjects were reminded of the
experimental design before entering the scanner. During
the scans verbal prompts were used to indicate the transi-
tion between each epoch.
Functional MRI data acquisition and analysis Functional
MRI techniques used by the MGH NMR Center were
employed, and have been extensively described [16±18].
Sixteen 7 mm gradient echo functional slices (TR 6s,
TE 30 ms) were collected using a quadrature head coil in
a General Electric 3 T scanner. Head stabilization was
achieved using either a small plastic bite bar or foam
pillow padding.
For group analysis, functional scan data and correspond-
ing anatomical scan data was transformed into Talairach
space [19], and then globally normalized and averaged
across subjects.
Meditation is a dynamic process that gradually leads to
a meditative state. Therefore two analyses were performed
in order to characterize regional fMRI responses more
completely. The primary analysis contrasted the meditation
and control periods in the group-averaged data. Activity
during the last 6 min of each meditation period was com-
pared to the 6 min control periods (120 time points total
per condition per scan). The second analysis (late vs early
meditation) compared steady-state meditation (the last
2 min of both meditation periods) with meditation induc-
tion (the ®rst 2 min of both meditation periods). An
automated region-de®ning algorithm was used on
smoothed Kolmogorov± Smirnov (KS) statistical maps
[20,21] (effective resolution of 8.1 mm2FWHM). Statistical
signi®cance was conservatively de®ned as p,10ÿ7in
order to correct for multiple comparisons. For both ana-
lyses, regions of interest were de®ned as clusters of >3
voxels with p,10ÿ7in the group averaged data, and
signi®cantly activated in at least three subjects.
Physiological measures: Heart rate, respiration rate, end-
tidal CO2,O
2saturation levels, and ECG measures were
recorded throughout each scanning session in two subjects
Functional MRI signal increases during meditation: The
primary group analysis compared meditation epochs with
control epochs. Signi®cant increases were found during
meditation in putamen, midbrain, pregenual anterior cin-
gulate cortex and hippocampal/parahippocampal forma-
tion (Fig. 1a; Table 1). Signi®cant activation was also
observed in the septum, caudate, amygdala and hypothala-
mus in at least three subjects. However, these foci lay too
close to areas of potential susceptibility artifacts to be
accurately localized and quanti®ed, given our scanning
parameters, and so they were not included in Table 1.
The second analysis (late vs early meditation) identi®ed
multiple foci of activation within prefrontal, parietal and
temporal cortices, as well as in the precentral and post-
central gyri, and hippocampal/parahippocampal formation
(Table 1). Activity was also observed in the amygdala,
hypothalamus and septum, but proximity to areas of
susceptibility artifacts again precluded inclusion in Table 1.
Finally, the ®rst scan from each subject ( n5) was
averaged together, as were the second scans (n4). The
two statistical analyses described above were performed
on each data set, and the results were compared. Although
there was no consistent difference between the two data
sets when the meditation vs control contrast is used, the
late vs early meditation contrast revealed a more robust
response during Scan 2 (Table 1; Fig. 1b). The increased
pattern of activity was consistent across all measures:
during the second scan a greater number of activation foci,
a larger percent signal change, and a higher proportion of
individuals with signi®cant changes in these regions were
observed (Fig. 1b; Table 1).
Global signal decreases and changes in cardiorespiratory
measures: Two subjects underwent physiological moni-
toring during scanning. One subject displayed large de-
creases in respiration rate and end tidal volume C02, and
increases in heart rate and blood oxygen saturation levels
during meditation, which returned to baseline at the end of
the meditation periods (Fig. 1d). This same subject also
displayed large global signal decreases in the fMRI signal
during the meditation periods (on the order of p,10ÿ30),
as did the three subjects whose physiology was not
monitored (Fig. 1c). In contrast, the changes in cardiore-
spiratory function of the other monitored subject were not
as pronounced, and this subject did not display large
global fMRI signal decreases during meditation.
The data indicate that meditation activates neural struc-
tures involved in attention (frontal and parietal cortex) and
arousal/autonomic control (pregenual anterior cingulate,
amygdala, midbrain and hypothalamus). In addition,
signi®cant activation was identi®ed in the putamen,
precentral and postcentral gyri and hippocampus/parahip-
pocampus in a majority of subjects, suggesting these
structures may also contribute to the meditative state.
Extended practice of meditation enhances activation in
many structures subserving meditation, as shown in the
late vs early and scan 1 vs scan 2 analyses. Furthermore,
these fMRI signal increases were robust: not only were
they easily detected in individuals, they were able to
overcome what is most likely a strong cardiorespiratory-
driven global decrease in BOLD fMRI signal.
The BOLD fMRI technique is by de®nition sensitive to
cardiorespiratory changes, and the fMRI signal was seen to
vary with measured physiological changes. Importantly,
1582 Vol 11 No 7 15 May 2000
Fig. 1. Group-averaged pseudocolor KS statistical maps superimposed on a high-resolution coronal anatomical map. The distance in millimeters from
the anterior commissure is indicated. (a) Meditation vs control. (b) Late vs early meditation. (c) Global fMRI signal decreases (Subject 4) during
meditation as compared to control task. (d)Changes in cardiorespiratory measures and global fMRI signal in Subject 4.
ControlFix Meditation Fix Control Meditation Fix
01 7 19 22 28 40 42
Time (min)
ETCO2 (Torr)
Resp. Rate (BPM)
Heart Rate (BPM)
(d) Changes in cardiorespiratory measures during meditation
(c) Global decreases during meditation – Meditation vs Control
(a) Signal increases during meditation
p , 1025p , 10222
Basal ganglia & midbrain
Amygdala Hippocampus
Meditation vs Control
26 mm 224 mm
215 mm
Scan 1
n 5 5
Scan 2
n 5 4
130 mm 29 mm 260 mm
p , 1025p , 10213
Early vs Late
(b) Signal increases with practice
Vol 11 No 7 15 May 2000 1583
Table 1. Activation during meditation.
Anatomical region Group average Average run 1 Average run 2
Vol Coordinates Max. Vox. Prop. p-value % signal Prop. p-value % signal Prop.
(mm3)p-value Indiv. change Indiv. change Indiv.
Mediatation vs control
Anterior cingulum (BA24a/b) 207 6 33 0 4 310ÿ33 80 9.6 310ÿ30 3.7 60 1.1 310ÿ18 3.1 50
Basal ganglia (putamen) 177 28 ÿ15 ÿ6 1.4 310ÿ26 80 2.4 310ÿ21 1.4 80 7.7 310ÿ10 1.5 50
Midbrain 477 0 ÿ12 ÿ9 1.0 310ÿ31 100 3.4 310ÿ12 2.8 100 1.9 310ÿ22 4.4 100
Midbrain 639 ÿ15 ÿ15 ÿ15 4.7 310ÿ31 80 4.3 310ÿ29 3.0 60 1.3 310ÿ12 2.6 75
Parahippocampal gyrus (BA35) 108 ÿ25 ÿ24 ÿ15 2.1 310ÿ32 80 1.2 310ÿ17 1.3 80 9.2 310ÿ25 1.7 50
Late vs early
Superior frontal gyrus (BA8) 27 ÿ6 24 50 1.5 310ÿ960 n.s. 0.2 0 1.7 310ÿ14 0.7 75
Middle frontal gyrus (BA9) 27 ÿ40 30 37 2.4 310ÿ880 n.s. 0.5 0 1.0 310ÿ13 2.1 100
Medial frontal gyrus (BA10) 126 12 48 9 3.0 310ÿ12 80 n.s. 0.7 60 2.7 310ÿ15 0.9 75
Parietal lobule (BA7) 63 ÿ21 ÿ48 53 7.4 310ÿ11 60 n.s. 0.2 20 3.0 310ÿ12 1.2 75
Superior parietal lobule (BA7) 90 ÿ21 ÿ63 53 2.4 310ÿ880 n.s. 0.3 20 1.0 310ÿ13 1.3 75
Superior parietal lobule (BA7) 54 ÿ31 ÿ57 53 3.3 310ÿ10 80 n.s. 0.0 40 4.2 310ÿ16 1.9 100
Superior parietal lobule (BA7) 81 ÿ28 ÿ54 43 2.7 310ÿ15 60 n.s. 0.3 40 4.2 310ÿ16 1.2 75
Superior and inferior parietal lobule
(BA7 and 40)
27 40 ÿ60 46 3.0 310ÿ17 80 n.s. 0.2 80 5.6 310ÿ13 1.6 100
Inferior parietal lobule (BA40) 72 ÿ34 ÿ36 43 9.2 310ÿ860 n.s. 0.2 20 1.7 310ÿ14 0.7 75
Superior temporal gyrus(BA 39) 72 59 ÿ60 28 3.4 310ÿ10 80 n.s. 0.8 40 6.1 310ÿ92.0 75
Middle temporal gyrus (BA 21) 225 59 ÿ57 3 3.0 310ÿ12 80 n.s. 0.5 20 2.7 310ÿ15 2.2 100
Parahippocampal gyrus (BA 35) 90 ÿ28 ÿ21 ÿ12 1.5 310ÿ980 n.s. 0.5 60 6.1 310ÿ91.5 75
Precentral gyrus (BA4) 45 46 ÿ12 53 7.4 310ÿ11 60 n.s. 0.4 20 5.6 310ÿ13 2.2 75
Postcentral gyrus (BA3) 72 ÿ25 ÿ39 62 3.0 310ÿ12 60 n.s. 0.4 0 6.1 310ÿ17 1.5 75
Paracentral lobule (BA6) 189 ÿ6ÿ33 65 4.2 310ÿ16 60 n.s. 0.6 20 4.2 310ÿ16 1.6 50
Stereotactic coordinates are reported for local maxima meeting threshold criteria (3 contiguous voxels with p,10ÿ7in the group-averaged data). Coordinates are expressed in mm from the anterior commissure, with x .0
corresponding to right hemisphere, y .0 corresponding to anterior and z.0 corresponding to superior [19]. Cytoarchitectonic areas are indicated after the named structure in parentheses. The group averaged max. vox. was
then used to determine the p-value and percent signal change from the averaged ®rst (n5) or second (n4) scans.
Proportion individuals indicates the percentage of subjects with an activation ( p,10ÿ7) within 1 voxel of the activated region as de®ned in the group averaged scan. Only foci with signi®cant activation in at least three subjects
are included in the table.
1584 Vol 11 No 7 15 May 2000
several observations indicate that changes in cardiorespira-
tory function were not responsible for the fMRI signal
increases measured here. First, the signal increases were
regionally speci®c, not global in nature. Second, the foci of
activation identi®ed here are consistent with those de-
scribed by the PET study of Lou et al., which did not ®nd
changes in global cerebral blood ¯ow [13]. Third, while the
two individuals monitored here displayed different cardi-
orespiratory changes during meditation, both subjects dis-
played similar patterns of activation.
During meditation subjects focus attention primarily on
their breathing, usually on diaphragm movement or the
physical sensations in the nostrils. This is a challenging
task requiring constant vigilance so that the mind does not
wander. Therefore we hypothesized that neural structures
involved in attention would be recruited by meditation,
and indeed, lateral prefrontal and parietal regions (well-
established components of distributed attentional networks
[22]) were strongly activated during meditation. The acti-
vation in limbic regions probably modulates autonomic
output [23]. Future experiments will examine the role of
these structures more directly.
Although our results are largely consistent with those of
Lou et al. [13], there are a few discrepancies. Speci®cally,
both studies identi®ed regions that were absent in the
other when making a meditation vs control contrast. These
differences in results can be attributed to substantial
differences in styles of meditation and experimental para-
digms. For example, Lou et al. pooled (and separately
compared) four different forms of Yoga Nidra meditation,
none of which were similar to the meditation style used in
the present study. Also, the control states in the two
studies were not comparable; subjects in the present study
were given a task that was similar to the mantra, while
subjects in the Lou et al. study listened to a tape of verbal
instructions, but performed no task.
Some structures display increasing fMRI signal
throughout the meditation epochs, as evidenced by the
late vs early statistical paradigm. In addition, more brain
regions achieved statistical signi®cance in the second scan
than in the ®rst scan with this comparison. These ®nd-
ings suggest that neural activity during meditation is
dynamic, slowly evolving during practice. This is in
agreement with the self-reports of experienced medita-
tors, who report that subtle changes in the subjective
state continue to occur throughout the duration of
meditation practice [11,12].
This study demonstrates that fMRI is useful for studying
the changes in brain activity that occur during the practice
of meditation. Elucidation of the biological basis of medita-
tion will shed new light on cognitive and emotional brain
processing systems elicited by the relaxation response, and
hopefully lead to greater acceptance of the relaxation
response as a complement to other medical treatments.
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Vol 11 No 7 15 May 2000 1585
... This can be interpreted as the result of increasing alpha power without reducing theta power. An increase in theta power is a phenomenon that occurs in conventional meditation because theta power increases in a deep relaxation state [33]. Alpha waves appear in more concentrated conditions than theta waves [34]. ...
... Theta waves appear in a deep relaxation state, so they appear in hypnosis and meditation [33]. Alpha waves appear in more concentrated conditions than theta waves, but appear more often when concentrating in a quiet state rather than when moving around [34]. ...
... The result of increasing theta power is a common result not only in the Alpha-Theta protocol but also in existing meditation-related EEG studies [24]. In previous studies, in regard to the Alpha-Theta protocol there have been few examples of the use of EEG analysis techniques on people who meditate, rather than patients, and the Alpha-Theta protocol and EEG studies related to meditation have mainly used relaxation therapy [33]. ...
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Background and Objectives: Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems with adverse effects on chronic kidney disease. This study aimed to determine the effect of Two Heart meditation exercise on anxiety in hemodialysis patients. Materials and Methods: In this clinical trial, 48 hemodialysis patients were randomly allocated into meditation (20 patients) or usual-care (28 patients) Groups. Two Hearts meditation exercises were conducted by the experimental group. The data were collected using the standardized anxiety section of the DASS-21 questionnaire before and at the end of the first and second month after the intervention. Collected data were analyzed in the SPSS-16 using the T-test, Fisher's exact test, Cchi-squared test and repeated measures analysis of variance.. Results: There was a significant difference in the mean score of anxiety before, and two months after the intervention. Conclusion: Conducting non-expensive and simple meditation exercises decreased patients’ anxiety. The procedure can be applied in hemodialysis patients to relief their mental symptoms..
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The incidence of candidiasis is significant, especially in the group of people predisposed to the development of fungal infections due to conditions related to the underlying diseases, clinical conditions and prolonged hospitalization. The most common etiological factor causing fungal diseases are species of the genus Candida spp. Undoubtedly, it is related to the dichotomy they present. Candida albicans, as well as NAC species (Nonalbicans Candida), are commonly found in the natural environment, and are also part of the human microbiome. However, some species, especially in conditions of dysbiosis, can pose a serious pathogenic threat. Fungal infections constitute a significant diagnostic and therapeutic problem due to a number of Candida spp. Adaptations to tissue colonization, as well as their phenotypic and genotypic variability. Effective fight against this type of infections may be possible thanks to the understanding of all structural, functional and molecular mechanisms, including the study of the relationship between Candida species and the analysis of changes within the genome of a given species. The full success of mycological diagnostics can be achieved by supplementing conventional methods with molecular methods. Genotypic analysis allows for the assessment of the degree and possible routes of spread of Candida spp species. The study of the relationship between Candida spp. Species and the analysis of changes within a given species enable the identification of their diversity, determination of the spread of species with different sensitivity to antimycotics, thus facilitating the selection of appropriate treatment . Thus, the essence of molecular methods concerns the analysis of fungal DNA polymorphism. Genotyping methods provide a lot of information on the organization of all genetic material in different Candida spp species. The aim of the study is to analyze the techniques most often used to differentiate individual Candida strains: RFLP (Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism) techniques, RAPD (Random Amplification Polymorphism DNA), RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription), Real-Time PCR, AFLP (Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism) ) and PCR MP (Melting Profile). It is also important to demonstrate the relationship between the results of molecular tests and modern microscopic methods, such as atomic force microscopy (AFM). The test results obtained with the use of these tools enable an in-depth analysis of the phenomena underlying the colonization ability of Candida spp. The assessment of nanomechanical properties, the analysis of elasticity, stiffness and the ability to adhere to the surface (adhesion) can determine the ability of fungi to colonize tissues or elements of the environment. Determining changes in nanomechanical properties of living cells can be a source of information about changes taking place in their structures under the influence of environmental, immunological and chemical factors. These data may be of importance in assessing the susceptibility of Candida spp. To drugs used in the elimination of such infections.
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The study was attempted to explore the effect of Aum chanting on stress management. These packages were given to the 20 student's age ranged between 17-25 yrs of Dev Sanskriti Universtiy at Haridwar, selected by accidental sampling. The time duration was 30 days. In this study researcher used the Stress Management Scale. For collecting the data Pre and Post test was done. After treatment study shows significant result. The stress has become an inseparable part of life of human beings. The stress is a great challenge to the mind & body. Stress is a product of dissatisfaction, frustration & leads to psychosomatic disorders. Key Words: AUM Chanting, Stress, Management.
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Classical EEG combined with spectral analysis was performed on a group of subjects during Transcendental Meditation (TM). The findings were compared with those obtained in a resting control group. 1. (1) Alpha rhythm increased in amplitude, slowed down in frequency and extended to anterior channels at the beginning of mediation. 2. (2) In a second stage, theta frequencies different from those of sleep diffused from frontal to posterior channels. They took the form of short theta periods or longer rhythmic theta trains. 3. (3) Rhythmic amplitude-modulated beta waves were present over the whole scalp in a third stage of deep meditation by advanced subjects. 4. (4) The most striking topographical alteration was the synchronisation of anterior and posterior channels. Therefore EEG records from meditators practising TM distinguish the meditative state from other states of consciousness. The combination of sequential EEG changes in relation to topographical alterations produces a particular pattern.
The anterior cingulate cortex has been activated by color Stroop tasks, supporting the hypothesis that it is recruited to mediate response selection or allocate attentional resources when confronted with competing information-processing streams. The current study used the newly developed "Counting Stroop" to identify the mediating neural substrate of cognitive interference. The Counting Stroop, a Stroop variant allowing on-line response time measurements while obviating speech, was created because speaking produces head movements that can exceed those tolerated by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), preventing the collection of vital performance data. During this task, subjects report by button-press the number of words (1-4) on the screen, regardless of word meaning. Interference trials contain number words that are incongruent with the correct response (e.g., "two" written three times), while neutral trials contain single semantic category common animals (e.g., "bird"). Nine normal right-handed adult volunteers underwent fMRI while performing the Counting Stroop. Group fMRI data revealed significant (P < or = 10(-4) activity in the cognitive division of anterior cingulate cortex when contrasting the interference vs. neutral conditions. On-line performance data showed 1) longer reaction times for interference blocks than for neutral ones, and 2) decreasing reaction times with practice during interference trials (diminished interference effects), indicating that learning occurred. The performance data proved to be a useful guide in analyzing the image data. The relative difference in anterior cingulate activity between the interference and neutral conditions decreased as subjects learned the task. These findings have ramifications for attentional, cognitive interference, learning, and motor control mechanism theories.
Modern neurosurgical concepts call for not only "seeing" but also for "localizing" structures in three-dimensional space in relationship to each other. Hence there is a need for a reference system. This book aims to put this notion into practice by means of anatomical and MRI sections with the same stereotaxic orientation. The purpose is to display the fundamental distribution of structures in three-dimensional space and their spatial evolution within the brain as a whole, while facilitating their identification; to make comparative studies of cortico-subcortical lesions possible on a basis of an equivalent reference system; to exploit the anatomo-functional data such as those furnished by SEEG in epilepsy and to enable the localization of special regions such as the SMA in three-dimensional space; and to apply the anatomical correlations of this reference system to neurophysiological investigations lacking sufficient anatomical back-up (including PET scan).
The treatment of chronic pain is costly and frustrating for the patient, health care provider, and health care system. This is due, in part, to the complexity of pain symptoms which are influenced by behavior patterns, socioeconomic factors, belief systems, and family dynamics as well as by physiological and mechanical components. Assessment of treatment outcomes is often limited to the patient's subjective, multidimensional, self-reports. Outcome measures based on data about return to work or clinic use can provide more objective assessments of intervention benefits. In this study, a 36% reduction in clinic visits in the first year postintervention was found among the 109 patients who participated in an outpatient behavioral medicine program. Decreased clinic use continued in the first 50 patients followed 2 years postintervention. Decreased use projected to an estimated net savings of $12,000 for the first year of the study posttreatment and $23,000 for the second year.
The aim of the present study was to examine whether the neural structures subserving meditation can be reproducibly measured, and, if so, whether they are different from those supporting the resting state of normal consciousness. Cerebral blood flow distribution was investigated with the 15O-H2O PET technique in nine young adults, who were highly experienced yoga teachers, during the relaxation meditation (Yoga Nidra), and during the resting state of normal consciousness. In addition, global CBF was measured in two of the subjects. Spectral EEG analysis was performed throughout the investigations. In meditation, differential activity was seen, with the noticeable exception of V1, in the posterior sensory and associative cortices known to participate in imagery tasks. In the resting state of normal consciousness (compared with meditation as a baseline), differential activity was found in dorso-lateral and orbital frontal cortex, anterior cingulate gyri, left temporal gyri, left inferior parietal lobule, striatal and thalamic regions, pons and cerebellar vermis and hemispheres, structures thought to support an executive attentional network. The mean global flow remained unchanged for both subjects throughout the investigation (39 ± 5 and 38 ± 4 ml/100 g/min, uncorrected for partial volume effects). It is concluded that the H215O PET method may measure CBF distribution in the meditative state as well as during the resting state of normal consciousness, and that characteristic patterns of neural activity support each state. These findings enhance our understanding of the neural basis of different aspects of consciousness. Hum. Brain Mapping 7:98–105, 1999. © 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Retinoic acid (RA) is known as the activating trigger for a large number of processes in developing and mature vertebrates, and it plays a pivotal role in eye development. We present here a brief review of the RA system in general, and we summarize the evidence for a determining role of RA in the embryonic eye. The earliest and most significant ocular feature influenced by RA is the dorso-ventral axis. A lasting differential expression of different RA generating enzymes along the retinal dorso-ventral axis then creates very high endogenous RA levels, as well as a ventro-dorsal RA gradient, features that are likely to direct morphogenesis along this axis in the embryonic eye. RA is also likely to play a significant role in the function of the mature eye, as some of the chromophore released from photo-bleached rhodopsin is converted to RA, a mechanism for light to directly influence gene expression. The pivotal role of RA in eye morphogenesis may represent a developmental correlate of an evolutionary origin of RA-mediated transcriptional regulation from retinoid usage in vision.
In a survey of the EEG characteristics of persons practising the Transcendental Meditation technique, 21 of 78 people demonstrated intermittent prominent bursts of frontally dominant theta activity. On the average across subjects, the theta bursts occurred about every 2 min, had an average duration of 1.8 sec, and an average maximal amplitude of 135 muV. Typically, the bursts were preceded and followed by alpha rhythm. Subject reports elicited during theta bursts indicated pleasant states with intact situational orientation and no subjective experiences related to sleep. Fifty-four non-meditating controls showed no theta bursts during relaxation and sleep onset. It is hypothesized that theta burst may be the manifestation of a state adjustment mechanism which comes into play during prolonged low-arousal states, and which may be related to EEG patterns of relaxation in certain behavioural conditions.
The concentrations of plasma prolactin and growth hormone were measured before, during, and after 40 min of the practice known as 'transcendental meditation' (TM). Subjects studied included a group of individuals who had regularly practiced TM for 3 to 5 years (long-term practitioners) and a group who had been regular practitioners for 3 to 4 months (short-term practitioners). Individuals of the short-term practitioner group were studied as their own controls before, during, and after a 40-min eyes-closed rest period. Prolactin concentration began to increase toward the end or after meditation in both groups of practitioners with levels continuing to increase in the post-TM period. The increases were not correlated with sleep occurrences. Prolactin levels were stable in controls throughout the experiment. Growth hormone concentration was unchanged in both TM and rest groups.