The Meditative Mind: A Comprehensive Meta-Analysis of MRI Studies.

Author: Boccia M1, Piccardi L2, Guariglia P3.
1Department of Psychology, "Sapienza" University of Rome, Via dei Marsi 78, 00185 Rome, Italy ; Neuropsychology Unit, IRCCS Fondazione Santa Lucia, Via Ardeatina 306, 00179 Rome, Italy. 2Neuropsychology Unit, IRCCS Fondazione Santa Lucia, Via Ardeatina 306, 00179 Rome, Italy ; Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences, L' Aquila University, P.le S.Tommasi 1, 67100 Coppito, Italy. 3Department of Human Science and Society, University of Enna "Kore," Cittadella Universitaria, 94100 Enna, Italy.
Conference/Journal: Biomed Res Int.
Date published: 2015
Other: Volume ID: 2015 , Pages: 419808 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1155/2015/419808 , Word Count: 216

Over the past decade mind and body practices, such as yoga and meditation, have raised interest in different scientific fields; in particular, the physiological mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects observed in meditators have been investigated. Neuroimaging studies have studied the effects of meditation on brain structure and function and findings have helped clarify the biological underpinnings of the positive effects of meditation practice and the possible integration of this technique in standard therapy. The large amount of data collected thus far allows drawing some conclusions about the neural effects of meditation practice. In the present study we used activation likelihood estimation (ALE) analysis to make a coordinate-based meta-analysis of neuroimaging data on the effects of meditation on brain structure and function. Results indicate that meditation leads to activation in brain areas involved in processing self-relevant information, self-regulation, focused problem-solving, adaptive behavior, and interoception. Results also show that meditation practice induces functional and structural brain modifications in expert meditators, especially in areas involved in self-referential processes such as self-awareness and self-regulation. These results demonstrate that a biological substrate underlies the positive pervasive effect of meditation practice and suggest that meditation techniques could be adopted in clinical populations and to prevent disease.
PMID: 26146618 [PubMed - in process] PMCID: PMC4471247