Therapeutic interventions that incorporate training in mindfulness meditation have become increasingly popular, but to date, little is known about neural mechanisms associated with these interventions. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), one of the most widely used mindfulness training programs, has been reported to produce positive effects on psychological well-being and to ameliorate symptoms of a number of disorders. Here, we report a controlled longitudinal study to investigate pre-post changes in brain gray matter concentration attributable to participation in an MBSR program. Anatomical MRI images from sixteen healthy, meditation-naïve participants were obtained before and after they underwent the eight-week program. Changes in gray matter concentration were investigated using voxel-based morphometry, and compared to a wait-list control group of 17 individuals. Analyses in a priori regions of interest confirmed increases in gray matter concentration within the left hippocampus. Whole brain analyses identified increases in the posterior cingulate cortex, the temporo-parietal junction, and the cerebellum in the MBSR group compared to the controls. The results suggest that participation in MBSR is associated with changes in gray matter concentration in brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.
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Journal of Integrative and Complementary Medicine
Several hundred peer-reviewed studies in the past 20 years have shown that the relaxation response and mind–body interventions are clinically effective in the treatment of many health problems that are caused or made worse by stress. Recent studies show that mind–body interventions may improve prognosis in coronary heart disease and can enhance immune functioning. It is hypothesized that mind–body interventions reduce sympathetic nervous system activation and increase parasympathetic […]
Behavior Research and Therapy
In this study, Herbert Benson's (1975) Relaxation Response Meditation program was tested as a possible treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Participants were 16 adults who were matched into pairs based on presence of Axis I disorder, primary IBS symptoms and demographic features and randomized to either a six week meditation condition or a six week wait list symptom monitoring condition. Thirteen participants completed treatment and follow-up. All subjects assigned to the Wai […]
The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease
A cross-sectional national telephone survey was used to determine whether Christian Scientists (N = 230), a religious group that uses mind/body (including spiritual) healing, self-report more or less illness than non-Christian Scientists (N = 589). The primary outcome measure was the proportion of Christian Scientists and non-Christian Scientists that, during the previous 12 months: a) experienced any of 13 common medical conditions or symptoms; and b) used conventional medicine, unco […]