[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A convergent line of neuroscientific evidence suggests that meditation alters the functional and structural plasticity of distributed neural processes underlying attention and emotion. The purpose of this study was to examine the brain structural differences between a well-matched sample of long-term meditators and controls. We employed whole-brain cortical thickness analysis based on magnetic resonance imaging, and diffusion tensor imaging to quantify white matter integrity in the brains of 46 experienced meditators compared with 46 matched meditation-naïve volunteers. Meditators, compared with controls, showed significantly greater cortical thickness in the anterior regions of the brain, located in frontal and temporal areas, including the medial prefrontal cortex, superior frontal cortex, temporal pole and the middle and interior temporal cortices. Significantly thinner cortical thickness was found in the posterior regions of the brain, located in the parietal and occipital areas, including the postcentral cortex, inferior parietal cortex, middle occipital cortex and posterior cingulate cortex. Moreover, in the region adjacent to the medial prefrontal cortex, both higher fractional anisotropy values and greater cortical thickness were observed. Our findings suggest that long-term meditators have structural differences in both gray and white matter.
Preview · Article · May 2012 · Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Meditation may show differential effects on stress and plasma catecholamines based on genetic polymorphisms in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and catechol O-methyl transferase (COMT). Eighty adults (40 men, 40 women; mean age 26 years) who practiced meditation regularly and 57 healthy control adults (35 men, 22 women; mean age 26 years) participated. Plasma catecholamines (norepinephrine (NE), epinephrine (E), and dopamine (DA)) concentrations were measured, and a modified form of the Stress Response Inventory was administered. The results were analyzed using two-way analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) with control and meditation subjects, gene polymorphism as factors, and meditation duration as the covariate. Two-way ANCOVA showed a significant interaction between control and meditation subjects, and BDNF Val66Met polymorphism on DA/NE+DA/E (p = 0.042) and NE/E+NE/DA (p = 0.046) ratios. A significant interaction was found for control and meditation subjects with COMT Val158Met polymorphism and plasma NE concentrations (p = 0.009). Post hoc ANCOVA in the meditation group, adjusted for meditation duration, showed significantly higher plasma NE concentrations for COMT Met carriers than COMT Val/Val subjects (p = 0.025). Significant differences of stress levels were found between the control and meditation subjects in BDNF Val/Met (p < 0.001) and BDNF Met/Met (p = 0.003), whereas stress levels in the BDNF Val/Val genotype did not differ between the control and meditation groups. This is the first evidence that meditation produces different effects on plasma catecholamines according to BDNF or COMT polymorphisms.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study was designed to assess the association between stress, positive affect and catecholamine levels in meditation and control groups. The meditation group consisted of 67 subjects who regularly engaged in mind-body training of "Brain-Wave Vibration" and the control group consisted of 57 healthy subjects. Plasma catecholamine (norepinephrine (NE), epinephrine (E), and dopamine (DA)) levels were measured, and a modified form of the Stress Response Inventory (SRI-MF) and the Positive Affect and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS) were administered. The meditation group showed higher scores on positive affect (p=.019) and lower scores on stress (p<.001) compared with the control group. Plasma DA levels were also higher in the meditation (p=.031) than in the control group. The control group demonstrated a negative correlation between stress and positive affects (r=-.408, p=.002), whereas this correlation was not observed in the meditation group. The control group showed positive correlations between somatization and NE/E (r=.267, p=.045) and DA/E (r=.271, p=.042) ratios, whereas these correlations did not emerge in the meditation group. In conclusion, these results suggest that meditation as mind-body training is associated with lower stress, higher positive affect and higher plasma DA levels when comparing the meditation group with the control group. Thus, mind-body training may influence stress, positive affect and the sympathetic nervous system including DA activity.