Neural correlates of attentional expertise in long-term meditation practitioners

Authors: J. A. Brefczynski-Lewis, A. Lutz, H. S. Schaefer, D. B. Levinson and R. J. Davidson

Year: 2007

Title: Neural correlates of attentional expertise in long-term meditation practitioners

Summary: With the use of fMRI it was found that people with an average of 19.000 hours of meditation experience had greater activation of brain regions associated with sustained attention than novice meditators. However it appears that experienced meditators with an average of 44,000 hours meditation had less activation of the same regions (inverted u-shaped curve distribution). When compared to novices, experienced meditators appear to have less brain activation in regions related to discursive thoughts but greater activation in response inhibition regions.

Perspective: Neuroscience

Link: http://www.pnas.org/content/104/27/11483.long#sec-5

Effects of Mindful-attention and Compassion Meditation Training on Amygdala Response to Emotional Stimuli in an Ordinary, Non-meditative State

Authors: Gaëlle Desbordes, Lobsang T. Negi, Thaddeus W. W. Pace, B. Alan Wallace, Charles L. Raison and Eric L. Schwartz

Year: 2012

Title: Effects of Mindful-attention and Compassion Meditation Training on Amygdala Response to Emotional Stimuli in an Ordinary, Non-meditative State

Summary: There is a long standing association between the amygdala and emotional processing. Previous research has indicated that in a meditative state amygdala response to emotional stimuli could be reduced. However this investigation points to the possibility that the effect of meditation training on emotional processing may exert an influence beyond the meditative-state. Participants were given training in either Mindful Attention Training (MAT) or Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT).

Perspective: Neuroscience

Link: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnhum.2012.00292/full

Regulation of the Neural Circuitry of Emotion by Compassion Meditation: Effects of Meditative Expertise

Authors: Antoine Lutz, Julie Brefczynski-Lewis, Tom Johnstone, Richard J. Davidson

Year: 2008

Title: Regulation of the Neural Circuitry of Emotion by Compassion Meditation: Effects of Meditative Expertise

Summary: Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) investigation of the insula and anterior cingulate cortices in empathic response during loving-kindness, compassionate meditation. The contrast between rest and meditation states indicated increased activation in amygdala, right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ), and right posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS). The findings when taken in their entirety suggests the cultivation of positive emotional states through meditation creates changes to the activation of circuitries  linked to empathy and theory of mind in response to emotional stimuli.

Perspective: Neuroscience

Link: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0001897