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 Bacteria as pacemaker for the intestine
22.11.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Researchers identify how bacterium survives in oxygen-poor environments
22.11.2017 | Columbia University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Kleine Strukturen – große Wirkung

Innovative Schutzschicht für geringen Verbrauch künftiger Rolls-Royce Flugtriebwerke entwickelt

Gemeinsam mit Rolls-Royce Deutschland hat das Fraunhofer-Institut für Werkstoff- und Strahltechnik IWS im Rahmen von zwei Vorhaben aus dem...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: Transparente Beschichtung für Alltagsanwendungen

Sport- und Outdoorbekleidung, die Wasser und Schmutz abweist, oder Windschutzscheiben, an denen kein Wasser kondensiert – viele alltägliche Produkte können von stark wasserabweisenden Beschichtungen profitieren. Am Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT) haben Forscher um Dr. Bastian E. Rapp einen Werkstoff für solche Beschichtungen entwickelt, der sowohl transparent als auch abriebfest ist: „Fluoropor“, einen fluorierten Polymerschaum mit durchgehender Nano-/Mikrostruktur. Sie stellen ihn in Nature Scientific Reports vor. (DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-15287-8)

In der Natur ist das Phänomen vor allem bei Lotuspflanzen bekannt: Wassertropfen perlen von der Blattoberfläche einfach ab. Diesen Lotuseffekt ahmen...

Im Focus: Ultrakalte chemische Prozesse: Physikern gelingt beispiellose Vermessung auf Quantenniveau

Wissenschaftler um den Ulmer Physikprofessor Johannes Hecker Denschlag haben chemische Prozesse mit einer beispiellosen Auflösung auf Quantenniveau vermessen. Bei ihrer wissenschaftlichen Arbeit kombinierten die Forscher Theorie und Experiment und können so erstmals die Produktzustandsverteilung über alle Quantenzustände hinweg - unmittelbar nach der Molekülbildung - nachvollziehen. Die Forscher haben ihre Erkenntnisse in der renommierten Fachzeitschrift "Science" publiziert. Durch die Ergebnisse wird ein tieferes Verständnis zunehmend komplexer chemischer Reaktionen möglich, das zukünftig genutzt werden kann, um Reaktionsprozesse auf Quantenniveau zu steuern.

Einer deutsch-amerikanischen Forschergruppe ist es gelungen, chemische Prozesse mit einer nie dagewesenen Auflösung auf Quantenniveau zu vermessen. Dadurch...

Im Focus: Leoniden 2017: Sternschnuppen im Anflug?

Gemeinsame Pressemitteilung der Vereinigung der Sternfreunde und des Hauses der Astronomie in Heidelberg

Die Sternschnuppen der Leoniden sind in diesem Jahr gut zu beobachten, da kein Mondlicht stört. Experten sagen für die Nächte vom 16. auf den 17. und vom 17....

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

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

IfBB bei 12th European Bioplastics Conference mit dabei: neue Marktzahlen, neue Forschungsthemen

22.11.2017 | Veranstaltungen

Zahnimplantate: Forschungsergebnisse und ihre Konsequenzen – 31. Kongress der DGI

22.11.2017 | Veranstaltungen

Tagung widmet sich dem Thema Autonomes Fahren

21.11.2017 | Veranstaltungen

 
VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
Weitere VideoLinks >>>
Aktuelle Beiträge

Bakterien als Schrittmacher des Darms

22.11.2017 | Biowissenschaften Chemie

Ozeanversauerung schädigt Miesmuscheln im Frühstadium

22.11.2017 | Biowissenschaften Chemie

Die gefrorenen Küsten der Arktis: Ein Lebensraum schmilzt davon

22.11.2017 | Geowissenschaften