Frontal theta activity and white matter plasticity following mindfulness meditation.

Author: Tang YY1, Tang R2, Rothbart MK3, Posner MI3
Author Information:
1Department of Psychological Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA.
2Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, USA.
3Department of Psychology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA.
Conference/Journal: Curr Opin Psychol.
Date published: 2019 Apr 18
Other: Volume ID: 28 , Pages: 294-297 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2019.04.004. [Epub ahead of print] , Word Count: 165

Both brain alpha and theta power have been examined in the mindfulness meditation literature and suggested as key biological signatures that potentially facilitate a successful meditative state. However, the exact role of how alpha and theta waves contribute to the initiation and maintenance of a meditative state remains elusive. In this perspective paper, we discuss the role of frontal midline theta (FMθ) activity in brain white matter plasticity following mindfulness meditation. In accordance with the previous studies in humans, we propose that FMθ activity indexes the control needed to maintain the meditation state; whereas alpha activity is related to the preparation needed to achieve the meditative state. Without enough mental preparation, one often struggles with and has difficulty achieving a meditative state. Animal work provides further evidence supporting the hypothesis that mindfulness meditation induces white matter changes through increasing FMθ activity. These studies shed light on how to effectively enhance brain plasticity through mindfulness meditation.

Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

PMID: 31082635 DOI: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2019.04.004