Forum für Wissenschaft, Industrie und Wirtschaft

Hauptsponsoren:     3M 
Datenbankrecherche:

 

Meditation appears to produce enduring changes in emotional processing in the brain

13.11.2012
Imaging study finds different forms of meditation may have varying effects on key brain structure

A new study has found that participating in an 8-week meditation training program can have measurable effects on how the brain functions even when someone is not actively meditating. In their report in the November issue of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Boston University (BU), and several other research centers also found differences in those effects based on the specific type of meditation practiced.

"The two different types of meditation training our study participants completed yielded some differences in the response of the amygdala – a part of the brain known for decades to be important for emotion – to images with emotional content," says Gaëlle Desbordes, PhD, a research fellow at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at MGH and at the BU Center for Computational Neuroscience and Neural Technology, corresponding author of the report. "This is the first time that meditation training has been shown to affect emotional processing in the brain outside of a meditative state."

Several previous studies have supported the hypothesis that meditation training improves practitioners' emotional regulation. While neuroimaging studies have found that meditation training appeared to decrease activation of the amygdala – a structure at the base of the brain that is known to have a role in processing memory and emotion – those changes were only observed while study participants were meditating. The current study was designed to test the hypothesis that meditation training could also produce a generalized reduction in amygdala response to emotional stimuli, measurable by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Participants had enrolled in a larger investigation into the effects of two forms of meditation, based at Emory University in Atlanta. Healthy adults with no experience meditating participated in 8-week courses in either mindful attention meditation – the most commonly studied form that focuses on developing attention and awareness of breathing, thoughts and emotions – and compassion meditation, a less-studied form that includes methods designed to develop loving kindness and compassion for oneself and for others. A control group participated in an 8-week health education course.

Within three weeks before beginning and three weeks after completing the training, 12 participants from each group traveled to Boston for fMRI brain imaging at the Martinos Center's state-of-the-art imaging facilities. Brain scans were performed as the volunteers viewed a series of 216 different images – 108 per session – of people in situations with either positive, negative or neutral emotional content. Meditation was not mentioned in pre-imaging instructions to participants, and investigators confirmed afterwards that the volunteers had not meditated while in the scanner. Participants also completed assessments of symptoms of depression and anxiety before and after the training programs.

In the mindful attention group, the after-training brain scans showed a decrease in activation in the right amygdala in response to all images, supporting the hypothesis that meditation can improve emotional stability and response to stress. In the compassion meditation group, right amygdala activity also decreased in response to positive or neutral images. But among those who reported practicing compassion meditation most frequently outside of the training sessions, right amygdala activity tended to increase in response to negative images – all of which depicted some form of human suffering. No significant changes were seen in the control group or in the left amygdala of any study participants.

"We think these two forms of meditation cultivate different aspects of mind," Desbordes explains. "Since compassion meditation is designed to enhance compassionate feelings, it makes sense that it could increase amygdala response to seeing people suffer. Increased amygdala activation was also correlated with decreased depression scores in the compassion meditation group, which suggests that having more compassion towards others may also be beneficial for oneself. Overall, these results are consistent with the overarching hypothesis that meditation may result in enduring, beneficial changes in brain function, especially in the area of emotional processing."

Eric Schwartz, PhD, of the BU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Center for Computational Neuroscience and Neural Technology, is senior author of the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience report. Additional co-authors are Lobsang T. Negi, PhD, and Thaddeus Pace, PhD, Emory University; Alan Wallace, PhD, Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies; and Charles Raison, MD, University of Arizona College of Medicine. The study was supported by grants from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, including an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant to Boston University.

Founded in 1839, Boston University (www.bu.edu) is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 33,000 students, it is the fourth largest independent university in the United States. BU contains 16 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes which are central to the school's research and teaching mission.

Massachusetts General Hospital (www.massgeneral.org), founded in 1811, is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, with an annual research budget of more than $750 million and major research centers in AIDS, cardiovascular research, cancer, computational and integrative biology, cutaneous biology, human genetics, medical imaging, neurodegenerative disorders, regenerative medicine, reproductive biology, systems biology, transplantation biology and photomedicine. In July 2012, MGH moved into the number one spot on the 2012-13 U.S. News & World Report list of "America's Best Hospitals."

Sue McGreevey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.massgeneral.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cells cling and spiral 'like vines' in first 3-D tissue scaffold for plants
27.08.2015 | University of Cambridge

nachricht Cellular contamination pathway for plutonium, other heavy elements, identified
27.08.2015 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Optische Schalter - Lernen mit Licht

Einem deutsch-französischen Team ist es gelungen, einen lichtempfindlichen Schalter für Nervenzellen zu entwickeln. Dies ermöglicht neue Einblicke in die Funktionsweise von Gedächtnis und Lernen, aber auch in die Entstehung von Krankheiten.

Lernen ist nur möglich, weil die Verknüpfungen zwischen den Nervenzellen im Gehirn fortwährend umgebaut werden: Je häufiger bestimmte Reizübertragungswege...

Im Focus: What would a tsunami in the Mediterranean look like?

A team of European researchers have developed a model to simulate the impact of tsunamis generated by earthquakes and applied it to the Eastern Mediterranean. The results show how tsunami waves could hit and inundate coastal areas in southern Italy and Greece. The study is published today (27 August) in Ocean Science, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

Though not as frequent as in the Pacific and Indian oceans, tsunamis also occur in the Mediterranean, mainly due to earthquakes generated when the African...

Im Focus: Membranprotein in Bern erstmals entschlüsselt

Dreidimensionale (3D) Atommodelle von Proteinen sind wichtig, um deren Funktion zu verstehen. Dies ermöglicht unter anderem die Entwicklung neuer Therapieansätze für Krankheiten. Berner Strukturbiologen ist es nun gelungen, die Struktur eines wichtigen Membranproteins zu entschlüsseln – dies gelingt relativ selten und ist eine Premiere in Bern.

Membranproteine befinden sich in den Wänden der Zellen, den Zellmembranen, und nehmen im menschlichen Körper lebenswichtige Funktionen wahr. Zu ihnen gehören...

Im Focus: Quantenbeugung an einem Hauch von Nichts

Die Quantenphysik besagt, dass sich auch massive Objekte wie Wellen verhalten und scheinbar an vielen Orten zugleich sein können. Dieses Phänomen kann nachgewiesen werden, indem man diese Materiewellen an einem Gitter beugt. Eine europäische Kollaboration hat nun erstmals die Delokalisation von massiven Molekülen an einem Gitter nachgewiesen, das nur noch eine einzige Atomlage dick ist. Dieses Experiment lotete die technischen Grenzen der Materiewellentechnologie aus und knüpft dabei an ein Gedankenexperiment von Bohr und Einstein an. Die Ergebnisse werden aktuell im Journal "Nature Nanotechnology" veröffentlicht.

Die quantenmechanische Wellennatur der Materie ist die Grundlage für viele moderne Technologien, wie z. B. die höchstauflösende Elektronenmikroskopie, die...

Im Focus: Auf Zeitreise in die Vergangenheit von Randmeeren: IOW-Expedition erkundet kanadische Küstengewässer

Wie und warum haben sich küstennahe Gewässer im Lauf der letzten Jahrzehnte und Jahrhunderte verändert? Wie kann man unterscheiden, welche Prozesse natürlicher Weise dazu beigetragen haben und welche durch den Einfluss des Menschen angestoßen wurden? Lässt sich die Ostsee als intensiv erforschtes Modell mit anderen Randmeeren vergleichen? Diese Fragen stehen im Mittelpunkt der Expedition der MARIA S. MERIAN, die am 25. August 2015 im kanadischen Halifax startet und das Forschungsschiff unter Federführung des Leibniz-Instituts für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde (IOW) in den Sankt-Lorenz-Strom und den Sankt-Lorenz-Golf und anschließend entlang der Küste von Labrador bis in die Hudson-Straße führt.

Mit an Bord sind insgesamt 25 WissenschaftlerInnen, darunter 15 vom IOW und 10 weitere
kanadische und U.S.-amerikanische Forschungspartner. Koordiniert wird...

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

IHR
JOB & KARRIERE
SERVICE
im innovations-report
in Kooperation mit academics
Veranstaltungen

Konzepte gegen Fachkräftemangel: Demografiekonferenz in Halle

27.08.2015 | Veranstaltungen

Neue Lösungen für Passivierung und Wafering: Fraunhofer CSP auf der EU PVSEC

27.08.2015 | Veranstaltungen

Tagung des CHF-KL: Industrie 4.0 und Digitalisierung - Herausforderungen für das Personalmanagement

27.08.2015 | Veranstaltungen

 
B2B-VideoLinks
Weitere VideoLinks >>>
Aktuelle Beiträge

Tiefer Blick in die Mechanismen von Halos

27.08.2015 | Physik Astronomie

Forschungsteam der Universität Hamburg beobachtet Auferstehung eines kosmischen (Radio-)Phönix

27.08.2015 | Physik Astronomie

Erfolgreiche Bor-Dotierung von Graphen-Nanoband

27.08.2015 | Physik Astronomie