Improve Working Memory in Adolescents with Mindful Movement

Improve Working Memory in Adolescents with Mindful Movement

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness meditation causes structural changes in the brain. It actually alters connections between brain cells. That is how adults end up with an enlarged cortex. And that may explain why meditation improved memory in the teens.” – Alison Pearce Stevens

 

Humans have both an amazing capacity to remember and a tremendously limited capacity depending upon which phase of the memory process. Our long-term store of information is virtually unlimited. On the other hand, short-term memory is extremely limited. This is called our working memory and it can contain only about 5 to 9 pieces of information at a time. This fact of a limited working memory store shapes a great deal about how we think, summarize, and categorize our world.

 

Memory ability is so important to everyday human functioning that it is important to study ways to maintain or improve it. Short-term, working, memory can be improved. Mindfulness has been shown to improve working memory capacity. Yoga practice has also been shown to have improve memory and reduce the decline in memory ability that occurs with aging. In addition Tai Chi practice has also been shown to improve memory. These effects are well established in adults but have not been explored in adolescents. It is thus important to study the detailed effects of mindful movement practice on working memory ability in adolescents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Meditative Movement Affects Working Memory Related to Neural Activity in Adolescents: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00931/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1332835_69_Psycho_20200519_arts_A), Kang and colleagues recruited healthy adolescents, aged 17-18 years, who were naïve to meditative or mindful movement practices. They were randomly assigned to either a relaxation control condition or to receive training in meditative movement. Relaxation and meditative movements were practiced for 9 minutes twice a day for 3 weeks.

 

Before and after training they were measured for working memory while simultaneously having their electroencephalogram (EEG) recorded. They were presented with a sequence of audio and visual targets and had to recall the target presented a number of positions back in the series, the further back they could successfully go, the better the working memory.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the relaxation group, the group that performed meditative movements had a significantly greater improvement in working memory, being able to recall targets further back in the sequence. They also found for the meditative movement group but not the relaxation group that the better the working memory score the lower the power of the high beta frequency (30-40 hz. Waves per second) in the EEG over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

 

These results suggest that meditative movement practice improves working (short-term) memory and that this improvement was related to changes in the EEG. The high beta frequency in the EEG has been shown to be related to filtering irrelevant information in working memory and thereby to improve working memory. So, the EEG data are compatible with the memory data suggesting better brain processing of working memory underlay the better working memory.

 

The study did not have a follow-up beyond the time immediately after the 3-week training period. It would be important in future research to investigate the duration of the effect by having follow-up measurements at delayed intervals. Also, the control condition in the present study was sedentary while the meditative movement training was active. It would be important for future research to include an active control perhaps performing a non-meditative exercise.

 

Regardless, the study demonstrates that improved working memory results from meditative movement practice in adolescents as has previously been found for adults. The improvement in working memory is important particularly for adolescents who are in a very active learning period of their lives. Working memory is the foundation for all memory and as such improvement would be important for their academic learning. It remains to be seen if meditative movement improves scholastic performance.

 

So, improve working memory in adolescents with mindful movement.

 

A critical part of attention (and working memory capacity) is being able to ignore distraction. There has been growing evidence that meditation training (in particular mindfulness meditation) helps develop attentional control.” – About Memory

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Kang H, An SC, Kim NO, Sung M, Kang Y, Lee US and Yang H-J (2020) Meditative Movement Affects Working Memory Related to Neural Activity in Adolescents: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Front. Psychol. 11:931. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00931

 

Numerous studies have revealed that meditative movement changes brain activity and improves the cognitive function of adults. However, there is still insufficient data on whether meditative movement contributes to the cognitive function of adolescents whose brain is still under development. Therefore, this study aimed to uncover the effects of meditative movement on the cognitive performance and its relation with brain activity in adolescents. Forty healthy adolescent participants (mean age of 17∼18) were randomly allocated into two groups: meditative movement and control group. The meditative movement group was instructed to perform the meditative movement, twice a day for 9 min each, for a duration of 3 weeks. During the same time of the day, the control group was instructed to rest under the same condition. To measure changes in cognitive abilities, a dual n-back task was performed before and after the intervention and analyzed by repeated two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). During the task, electroencephalogram signals were collected to find the relation of brain activity with working memory performance and was analyzed by regression analysis. A repeated two-way ANOVA with Bonferroni correction showed that working memory performance was significantly increased by meditative movement compared with the retest effect. Based on regression analysis, the amplitude of high-beta rhythm in the F3 channel showed a significant correlation with dual n-back score in the experimental group after the intervention, while there was no correlation in the control group. Our results suggest that meditative movement improves the performance of working memory, which is related to brain activity in adolescents.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00931/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1332835_69_Psycho_20200519_arts_A

 

Meditation Produces Mental Emptiness by Lowering Phasic Relationships in the EEG

Meditation Produces Mental Emptiness by Lowering Phasic Relationships in the EEG

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Meditation research explores how the brain works when we refrain from concentration, rumination and intentional thinking. Electrical brain waves suggest that mental activity during meditation is wakeful and relaxed.” – ScienceDaily

 

Meditation training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. A characterizing feature of meditation is that it can produce periods of thoughtless awareness also known as mental emptiness where thinking is minimized. Little is known, however, about the underlying brain activity during thoughtless awareness relative to cognitive processing, thinking.

 

One way to observe the effects of meditation is to measure changes in the electroencephalogram (EEG), the rhythmic electrical activity that can be recorded from the scalp. The recorded activity can be separated into frequency bands. Delta activity consists of oscillations in the 0.5-3 cycles per second band. Theta activity in the EEG consists of oscillations in the 4-8 cycles per second band. Alpha activity consists of oscillations in the 8-12 cycles per second band. Beta activity consists of oscillations in the 13-30 cycles per second band while Gamma activity occurs in the 30-100 cycles per second band.

 

In today’s Research News article “From thoughtless awareness to effortful cognition: alpha – theta cross-frequency dynamics in experienced meditators during meditation, rest and arithmetic.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7096392/), Rodriguez-Larios and colleagues recruited adult, highly experienced, meditators and recorded the electroencephalogram (EEG) while they were at rest, engaged in breath following focused meditation, and doing mental arithmetic (counting backward by 7. They analyzed the EEG signals for alpha and theta rhythms and investigated the phasic relationships between them.

 

They found that during meditation the phasic relationships between alpha and theta rhythms in the brain were at a minimum where they were at a maximum during mental arithmetic. Since during the cognitive task of mental arithmetic the phasic relationships were high, it appears that these phasic relationships between alpha and theta rhythms are associated with cognitive processes, thinking. The fact that they’re minimized during meditation suggests that during meditation cognition, thinking, is minimized. This suggests that awareness is occurring without thought; thoughtless awareness.

 

These results make sense in that the goal of breath following meditation is to relax the mind and focus it on simple sensory signals and thereby minimize thinking. Meditation focuses the mind on the present moment and the sensory experiences occurring in the moment. The deeper the focus, the less room there is for thought to occur. The present results indicate that this thoughtless awareness can be seen in the electrical activity of the brain during meditation.

 

So, meditation produces mental emptiness by lowering phasic relationships in the EEG.

 

A theta wave cycle lasts about as long as the human eye blinks, or about 4/10 of a second! They are also associated with deep meditation. . . Theta waves are associated with dreaming sleep, super learning, creativity, daydreaming, and deep meditation. And with emotional surges, self-reprogramming, and spiritual experiences.” – Mindvalley

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Rodriguez-Larios, J., Faber, P., Achermann, P., Tei, S., & Alaerts, K. (2020). From thoughtless awareness to effortful cognition: alpha – theta cross-frequency dynamics in experienced meditators during meditation, rest and arithmetic. Scientific reports, 10(1), 5419. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-62392-2

 

Abstract

Neural activity is known to oscillate within discrete frequency bands and the synchronization between these rhythms is hypothesized to underlie information integration in the brain. Since strict synchronization is only possible for harmonic frequencies, a recent theory proposes that the interaction between different brain rhythms is facilitated by transient harmonic frequency arrangements. In this line, it has been recently shown that the transient occurrence of 2:1 harmonic cross-frequency relationships between alpha and theta rhythms (i.e. falpha ≈ 12 Hz; ftheta ≈ 6 Hz) is enhanced during effortful cognition. In this study, we tested whether achieving a state of ‘mental emptiness’ during meditation is accompanied by a relative decrease in the occurrence of 2:1 harmonic cross-frequency relationships between alpha and theta rhythms. Continuous EEG recordings (19 electrodes) were obtained from 43 highly experienced meditators during meditation practice, rest and an arithmetic task. We show that the occurrence of transient alpha:theta 2:1 harmonic relationships increased linearly from a meditative to an active cognitive processing state (i.e. meditation < rest < arithmetic task). It is argued that transient EEG cross-frequency arrangements that prevent alpha:theta cross-frequency coupling could facilitate the experience of ‘mental emptiness’ by avoiding the interaction between the memory and executive components of cognition.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7096392/

 

Mindfulness is Associated in Improved Emotion Regulation with Mothers

Mindfulness is Associated in Improved Emotion Regulation with Mothers

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

With [Mindfulness Meditation] training or practice . .  we become more able to allow disturbing emotions and thoughts to pass through awareness. We develop the ability to NOT act or react to every emotion or thought we have.” – Timothy Pychyl

 

There has accumulated a large amount of research demonstrating that mindfulness has significant benefits for psychological, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. It has been shown to improve emotions and their regulation. Practitioners demonstrate more positive and less negative emotions and the ability to fully sense and experience emotions, while responding to them in appropriate and adaptive ways. In other words, mindful people are better able to experience yet control their responses to emotions. The ability of mindfulness training to improve emotion regulation is thought to be the basis for a wide variety of benefits that mindfulness provides to mental health and the treatment of mental illness especially depression and anxiety disorders.

 

One way that meditation practices may produce these benefits is by altering the brain. The nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity. Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread areas. In other words, mindfulness appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits.

 

The majority of studies examining brain responses to emotional stimuli employ relatively artificial materials such as emotion laden pictures of scenes independent of the participant’s actual environment and are not related to the actual experiences of the participants. It is important to investigate how mindfulness affects the individual’s emotions and the brains responses to emotional stimuli related to the everyday experiences of the individual.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-related differences in neural response to own infant negative versus positive emotion contexts.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6969079/), Laurent and colleagues recruited mothers of 3-month old infants. The had them complete a measure of mindfulness that included observing, describing, acting with awareness, non-reacting, and non-judging facets. They collected videos of the mothers engaged with peekaboo with their infants (positive emotions) and holding the infant’s arms to their sides (negative emotions) and presented them while the mothers underwent functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) of their brains.

 

They found that the mothers’ showed greater activation of the brain in general to the positive (peekaboo) own-infant video than to the negative (arm restraint video). Of the facets of mindfulness, mother who were high in nonreactivity and non-judging had greater brain activations to the own-infant peekaboo video than the arm restraint video. These activations occurred in widespread areas of their brains.

 

These results are interesting and suggest that mothers who are mindful, especially with nonreactivity and non-judging, have greater brain activation to seeing positive own-infant scenes than to negative own-infant scenes. This suggests that mindfulness is related to increased responses to emotionally positive events in their real environments than to emotionally negative events. This may explain the improved moods of mindful people. Their brains are tuned to positivity.

 

So, mindfulness is associated in improved emotion regulation with mothers.

 

The appearance of things change according to the emotions and thus we see magic and beauty in them, while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves.” – Kahlil Gibran

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Laurent, H. K., Wright, D., & Finnegan, M. (2018). Mindfulness-related differences in neural response to own infant negative versus positive emotion contexts. Developmental cognitive neuroscience, 30, 70–76. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcn.2018.01.002

 

Abstract

Mindfulness is thought to promote well-being by shaping the way people respond to challenging social-emotional situations. Current understanding of how this occurs at the neural level is based on studies of response to decontextualized emotion stimuli that may not adequately represent lived experiences. In this study, we tested relations between mothers’ dispositional mindfulness and neural responses to their own infant in different emotion-eliciting contexts. Mothers (n = 25) engaged with their 3-month-old infants in videorecorded tasks designed to elicit negative (arm restraint) or positive (peekaboo) emotion. During a functional MRI session, mothers were presented with 15-s clips from these recordings, and dispositional mindfulness scores were used to predict their neural responses to arm restraint > peekaboo videos. Mothers higher in nonreactivity showed relatively lower activation to their infants’ arm restraint compared to peekaboo videos in hypothesized regions—insula and dorsal prefrontal cortex—as well as non-hypothesized regions. Other mindfulness dimensions were associated with more limited areas of lower (nonjudgment) and higher (describing) activation in this contrast. Mothers who were higher in mindfulness generally activated more to the positive emotion context and less to the negative emotion context in perceptual and emotion processing areas, a pattern that may help to explain mindfulness-related differences in well-being.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6969079/

Content Free Awareness is Associated with Increased Brain Attentional Activity and Decreased Self-Awareness Activity

Content Free Awareness is Associated with Increased Brain Attentional Activity and Decreased Self-Awareness Activity

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“While scientists do not yet fully understand the true origin of consciousness, many agree that it can be measured within the brainwave patterns of the individual.” – EOC Institute

 

In meditation there occurs a number of different states of consciousness. One of the highest levels achieved is content free awareness. In this state there is nothing that the meditator is aware of other than awareness. The meditator is aware and aware of being aware, but nothing else. Changes in awareness are associated with changes in the activity of the brain which can be seen in the Electroencephalogram (EEG) and also in functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). But content free awareness is elusive and what activity in the brain accompanies it is unknown.

 

In today’s Research News article “Content-Free Awareness: EEG-fcMRI Correlates of Consciousness as Such in an Expert Meditator.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03064/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1254058_69_Psycho_20200225_arts_A), Winter and colleagues recruited an meditator with 40 years of experience and over 50,000 hours of formal meditation practice. They simultaneously recorded heart rate, respiration, and brain activity with an electroencephalogram (EEG) and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) during rest, attention to external stimuli, attention to internal stimuli including memories, and during meditation in a state of content-minimized awareness. After the content free awareness “he reported that he had no awareness of any mental content or any sensory event, including the noise of the MRI scanner. Similarly, he reported having had no experience of self, time, or space of any kind whatsoever at this stage.”

 

They found that heart rate and respiration decreased over the various states reaching its lowest levels during content free awareness. They found that there was a sharp decrease in EEG alpha rhythm power and increase in theta rhythm power during content free awareness. Finally, they found a decrease in functional connectivity in the posterior default mode network and increase in the dorsal attention network during content free awareness.

 

These are interesting results but it must be kept in mind that this was from a single adept expert meditator. Nevertheless, they provide a glimpse at the state of the nervous system during the deepest mental state occurring during meditation. The default mode network is involved in mind wandering, daydreaming, and self-referential thought. The fact that the connectivity within this system was markedly reduced during content free awareness suggests that non-specific mental activity and the idea of self are greatly reduced if not eliminated. The fact that connectivity within the dorsal attentional network increased while there was no increase in the sensory areas of the brain suggests that during content free awareness there was a focused attention that was decoupled from sensory experience. Hence, the brain activity observed in this meditator markedly corresponds to the mental state achieved.

 

So, content free awareness is associated with increased brain attentional activity and decreased self-awareness activity.

 

“The higher state of consciousness is somewhere in between the waking, sleeping and dreaming states. Here, we know we “are” but we don’t know “where” we are. This knowledge that I “am,” but I don’t know “where” I am or “what” I am, is called Shiva.” – Ravi Shankar

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Winter U, LeVan P, Borghardt TL, Akin B, Wittmann M, Leyens Y and Schmidt S (2020) Content-Free Awareness: EEG-fcMRI Correlates of Consciousness as Such in an Expert Meditator. Front. Psychol. 10:3064. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03064

 

The minimal neural correlate of the conscious state, regardless of the neural activity correlated with the ever-changing contents of experience, has still not been identified. Different attempts have been made, mainly by comparing the normal waking state to seemingly unconscious states, such as deep sleep or general anesthesia. A more direct approach would be the neuroscientific investigation of conscious states that are experienced as free of any specific phenomenal content. Here we present serendipitous data on content-free awareness (CFA) during an EEG-fMRI assessment reported by an extraordinarily qualified meditator with over 50,000 h of practice. We focused on two specific cortical networks related to external and internal awareness, i.e., the dorsal attention network (DAN) and the default mode network (DMN), to explore the neural correlates of this experience. The combination of high-resolution EEG and ultrafast fMRI enabled us to analyze the dynamic aspects of fMRI connectivity informed by EEG power analysis. The neural correlates of CFA were characterized by a sharp decrease in alpha power and an increase in theta power as well as increases in functional connectivity in the DAN and decreases in the posterior DMN. We interpret these findings as correlates of a top-down-initiated attentional state excluding external sensory stimuli and internal mentation from conscious experience. We conclude that the investigation of states of CFA could provide valuable input for new methodological and conceptual approaches in the search for the minimal neural correlate of consciousness.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03064/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1254058_69_Psycho_20200225_arts_A

 

Improve Brain Processing of Negative Emotions with Meditation

Improve Brain Processing of Negative Emotions with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

meditation physically impacts the extraordinarily complex organ between our ears. . . .  meditation nurtures the parts of the brain that contribute to well-being. Furthermore, it seems that a regular practice deprives the stress and anxiety-related parts of the brain of their nourishment.” – Mindworks

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. As a result, mindfulness training has been called the third wave of therapies. Mindfulness training produces changes in the brain’s electrical activity. This can be measured by recording the electroencephalogram (EEG). The brain produces rhythmic electrical activity that can be recorded from the scalp.

 

There is evidence that mindfulness training improves emotion regulation by altering the brain. A common method to study the activity of the nervous system is to measure the electrical signal at the scalp above brain regions. Changes in this activity are measurable with mindfulness training. One method to observe emotional processing in the brain is to measure the changes in the electrical activity that occur in response to specific emotional stimuli. These are called event-related potentials or ERPs. The signal following a stimulus changes over time.

 

The fluctuations of the signal after specific periods of time are thought to measure different aspects of the nervous system’s processing of the stimulus. The P300 response in the evoked potential (ERP) is a positive going electrical response occurring between a 1.5 to 5.0 tenths of a second following the target stimulus presentation. The P300 component is thought to reflect inhibitory processes. The P600 response in the ERP is a positive going response occurring between a 6.0 to 10 tenths of a second following the target stimulus presentation. The P600 component is thought to be a language relevant response particularly to linguistic errors.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of Meditation on Comprehension of Statements About One-Self and Others: A Pilot ERP and Behavioral Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6962228/), Savostyanov and colleagues recruited healthy right handed adults and separated them according to their meditation experience into non-meditators, 3-5 years of experience, and greater than 10 years of experience. While the electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded the participants were presented with sentences on a computer screen. Half of the sentences contained blatant grammatical errors. The participants were asked to press a button if the sentence contained a grammatical error. There were 5 kinds of sentences that suggested 1) aggression of participant, 2) aggression of other people, 3) anxiety of participant, 4) anxiety of other people, and 5) neutral.

 

They found that it took significantly longer to detect correct sentences but with significantly greater accuracy than those with grammatical errors. Sentences about self were solved significantly faster and with greater accuracy than sentences about others. Sentences about anxiety were solved significantly faster than sentences about aggression. Meditators responded significantly faster than non-meditators. Sentences about anxiety and aggression were solved significantly faster by meditators than non-meditators. Non-meditators were significantly more accurate with sentences about self than sentences about others while there was no difference for meditators. In the evoked potentials (ERP), the P300 response was larger for long-term meditators than for moderate-term meditators which were significantly larger than for non-meditators.

 

These results are complex, but reflect an influence of meditation practice on the ability to respond to emotionally charged sentences. In particular, the results show that meditators are better at dealing with negative emotions than non-meditators. The larger P300 response in the meditators may reflect a greater ability in meditators to inhibit responses to negative emotions allowing them to respond faster when these emotions are present. These results are in line with previous findings that meditation training improves emotion regulation.

 

So, improve brain processing of negative emotions with meditation.

 

It seems the longer you do meditation, the better your brain will be at self-regulation. You don’t have to consume as much energy at rest and you can more easily get yourself into a more relaxed state.” – Bin He

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Savostyanov, A., Tamozhnikov, S., Bocharov, A., Saprygin, A., Matushkin, Y., Lashin, S., Kolpakova, G., Sudobin, K., & Knyazev, G. (2020). The Effect of Meditation on Comprehension of Statements About One-Self and Others: A Pilot ERP and Behavioral Study. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 13, 437. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2019.00437

 

Abstract

The main goal of this study was to examine the effect of long-term meditation practice on behavioral indicators and ERP peak characteristics during an error-recognition task, where participants were presented with emotionally negative (evoking anxiety or aggression) written sentences describing self-related or non-self-related emotional state and personality traits. In total, 200 sentences written in Russian with varying emotional coloring were presented during the task, with half of the sentences containing a grammatical error that the participants were asked to identify. The EEG was recorded in age-matched control individuals (n = 17) and two groups of Samatha meditators with relatively short- (3–5 years’ experience, n = 18) and long-term (10–30 years’ experience, n = 18) practice experience. Task performance time (TPT) and accuracy of error detection (AED) were chosen as behavioral values. Amplitude, time latency and cortical distribution of P300 and P600 peaks of ERP were used as a value of speech-related brain activity. All statistical effects of meditation were estimated, controlling for age and sex. No behavioral differences between two groups of meditators were found. General TPT was shorter for both groups of meditators compared to the control group. Non-meditators reacted significantly slower to sentences about aggression than to sentences about anxiety or non-emotional sentences, whereas no significance was found between meditator groups. Non-meditators had better AED for the sentences about one-self than for the sentences about other people, whereas the meditators did not show any significant difference. The amplitude of P300 peak in frontal and left temporal scalp regions was higher for long-term meditators in comparison with both intermediate and control groups. The latency of P300 and P600 in left frontal and temporal regions positively correlated with TPT, whereas the amplitude of P300 in these regions had a negative correlation with TPT. We demonstrate that long-term meditation practice increases the ability of an individual to process negative emotional stimuli. The differences in behavioral reactions after onset of negative information that was self-related and non-self-related, which is typical for non-meditators, disappeared due to the influence of meditation. ERP results could be interpreted as a value of increase in voluntary control over emotional state during meditational practice.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6962228/

 

Improve Brain Processing of Errors with Mindfulness

Improve Brain Processing of Errors with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“meditation physically impacts the extraordinarily complex organ between our ears. Recent scientific evidence confirms that meditation nurtures the parts of the brain that contribute to well-being. Furthermore, it seems that a regular practice deprives the stress and anxiety-related parts of the brain of their nourishment.” – Mindworks

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. As a result, mindfulness training has been called the third wave of therapies. Mindfulness training produces changes in the brain’s electrical activity. This can be measured by recording the electroencephalogram (EEG). The brain produces rhythmic electrical activity that can be recorded from the scalp.

 

One method to indirectly observe information processing in the brain is to measure the changes in the electrical activity that occur in response to specific stimuli. These are called event-related potentials or ERPs. The signal following a stimulus changes over time. The fluctuations of the signal after specific periods of time are thought to measure different aspects of the nervous system’s processing of the stimulus. Error related negativity is a negative going change in the EEG that occurs about a tenth of a second after committing an error in a lab task. This is followed 2 to 4 tenths of a second after error commission by a positive going change in the EEG called the error positivity. Using these parameters in the EEG, the ability of mindfulness meditation training to affect error monitoring can be investigated.

 

In today’s Research News article “On Variation in Mindfulness Training: A Multimodal Study of Brief Open Monitoring Meditation on Error Monitoring.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770246/), Lin and colleagues recruited meditation naïve, healthy, right handed, female undergraduate students and randomly assigned them to a meditation or control group. Meditation consisted in a recorded 20 minute guided open monitoring meditation while the control condition consisted of an 18 minute TED talk. After they performed an arrow flanker task where the participant had to respond to an arrow stimulus and ignore irrelevant but distracting material. During the task the electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded and the brain’s electrical responses to the arrow flanker task stimuli recorded (event-related potentials, ERP).

 

The groups did not differ in mindfulness or accuracy or reaction times in the flanker task. With the event-related potentials (ERP) they found that on trials where there was an error committed the meditation group had a significantly larger error positivity response. Surprisingly, and contrary to expectations, there were no group differences in error related negativity in the ERP.

 

The results suggest that brief open monitoring meditation in meditation naïve young women does not affect their ability to attend to a task and ignore distractions, but it does alter the electrical response of the brain to attentional errors committed. Error positivity has been linked to awareness of the errors and cognitive adjustments resulting from the errors. Hence, brief open monitoring meditation appears to improve awareness of error commission and perhaps future adjustments.

 

It should be noted that a one-time 20-minute guided meditation may not be sufficient to produce major changes in neural processing. Indeed, meditation practice has been found to improve attentional ability. So, there is a need to investigate error monitoring and detection and the brain’s responses after longer-term meditation practice in both men and women of a wider range of ages.

 

So, improve brain processing of errors with mindfulness.

 

“brain imaging techniques are revealing that this ancient practice can profoundly change the way different regions of the brain communicate with each other – and therefore how we think – permanently.” – Tom Ireland

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Lin, Y., Eckerle, W. D., Peng, L. W., & Moser, J. S. (2019). On Variation in Mindfulness Training: A Multimodal Study of Brief Open Monitoring Meditation on Error Monitoring. Brain sciences, 9(9), 226. doi:10.3390/brainsci9090226

 

Abstract

A nascent line of research aimed at elucidating the neurocognitive mechanisms of mindfulness has consistently identified a relationship between mindfulness and error monitoring. However, the exact nature of this relationship is unclear, with studies reporting divergent outcomes. The current study sought to clarify the ambiguity by addressing issues related to construct heterogeneity and technical variation in mindfulness training. Specifically, we examined the effects of a brief open monitoring (OM) meditation on neural (error-related negativity (ERN) and error positivity (Pe)) and behavioral indices of error monitoring in one of the largest novice non-meditating samples to date (N = 212). Results revealed that the OM meditation enhanced Pe amplitude relative to active controls but did not modulate the ERN or behavioral performance. Moreover, exploratory analyses yielded no relationships between trait mindfulness and the ERN or Pe across either group. Broadly, our findings suggest that technical variation in scope and object of awareness during mindfulness training may differentially modulate the ERN and Pe. Conceptual and methodological implications pertaining to the operationalization of mindfulness and its training are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770246/

Mindfulness Reduces Addiction by Improving Pleasure Appreciation in Opioid Users

Mindfulness Reduces Addiction by Improving Pleasure Appreciation in Opioid Users

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness-based interventions could help people dependent on opioids increase their self-awareness and self-control over cravings and be less reactive to emotional and physical pain. Individuals with an opioid addiction could also be taught to change their negative thoughts and savor pleasant events, which may help them to regulate their emotions and experience more enjoyment.” – Science News

 

Substance abuse and addiction is a terrible problem, especially opioid pain relievers. Opioid addiction has become epidemic and is rapidly increasing affecting more than 2 million Americans and an estimated 15 million people worldwide. In the U.S more than 20,000 deaths yearly were attributed to an overdose of prescription opioids, and another 13,000 deaths from heroin overdose. These statistics, although startling are only the tip of the iceberg. Drug use is associated with suicide, homicide, motor-vehicle injury, HIV infection, pneumonia, violence, mental illness, and hepatitis. It can render the individual ineffective at work, it tears apart families, it makes the individual dangerous both driving and not.

 

An effective treatment for addiction has been elusive. Most programs and therapies to treat addictions have poor success rates. Recent research is indicating that mindfulness has been found to be effective in treating addictionsMindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) was specifically developed to employ mindfulness training along with other proven methods to assist addicts in remaining off of drugs. MORE involves mindful breathing and body scan meditations, cognitive reappraisal to decrease negative emotions and craving, and savoring to augment natural reward processing and positive emotion.

 

One method to observe reward processing in the brain is to measure the changes in the electrical activity that occur in response to specific reward related stimuli. These are called event-related potentials or ERPs. The signal following a stimulus changes over time. The fluctuations of the signal after specific periods of time are thought to measure different aspects of the nervous system’s processing of the stimulus. The Late Positive Potential (LPP) response in the evoked potential (ERP) is a positive going electrical response occurring between a 4 to 8 tenths of a second following the target stimulus presentation. The LPP is thought to reflect attention to the emotional features of a stimulus.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement remediates hedonic dysregulation in opioid users: Neural and affective evidence of target engagement.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6795512/), Garland and colleagues recruited chronic pain patients who were opioid users. They were randomly assigned to receive 8 weeks of either Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) or a therapist led support group. They were measured for brain activity with an electroencephalogram (EEG) before and after treatment and opioid use at 3-month follow-up. In one experiment they measure the EEG response (Late Positive Potential (LPP)) while being presented with opioid cues (pictures of pills and pill bottles) or a neutral picture either normally or while attempting to not react or judge the stimuli. In a separate experiment with a similar procedure except that the participants were presented with natural reward pictures (e.g., social affiliation, natural beauty, and athletic victories) or neutral pictures.

 

They found that before treatment opioid and natural reward stimuli reliably produced significantly larger Late Positive Potentials (LPP) indicating that the LPP reflected emotional responses to rewards. After treatment the group that received Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) had significantly smaller LPP responses to opioid related cues than the support group. When the participants were asked to not react or judge the stimuli the MORE group had significantly greater reductions in the LPP. Importantly, the participants in the MORE group had a significantly larger LPPs to natural reward stimuli and when the participants were asked to not react or judge the natural reward stimuli the MORE group had a significantly larger increases in the LPP.

 

They also investigated the subjective emotional responses of the participants to the opioid and natural reward stimuli and found that after Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) the participants had larger increases in response to natural reward stimuli and smaller responses to opioid related stimuli. At the 3 month follow-up they found that MORE reduced the use of opioids to a greater extent than the support group and that it did so directly and also indirectly by increasing natural reward responses which, in turn, reduced opioid use.

 

These results suggest that responses to the rewarding aspects of stimuli is important in opioid addiction and that Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) reduces opioid use in addicted individuals they demonstrate that MORE reduces emotional responses to opioid cues while amplifying responses to natural rewards. This suggests that mindfulness treatment reduces opioid use by altering the addict’s responses to stimuli related to the addiction and naturally rewarding stimuli; amplifying natural reward while suppressing opioid rewards. This makes opioids less rewarding and natural stimuli more rewarding.

 

So, mindfulness reduces addiction by altering pleasure appreciation in opioid users.

 

Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE), increases the brain’s response to natural, healthy rewards while also decreasing the brain’s response to opioid-related cues.” – University of Utah

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Garland, E. L., Atchley, R. M., Hanley, A. W., Zubieta, J. K., & Froeliger, B. (2019). Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement remediates hedonic dysregulation in opioid users: Neural and affective evidence of target engagement. Science advances, 5(10), eaax1569. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aax1569

 

Abstract

Addiction neuroscience models posit that recurrent drug use increases reactivity to drug-related cues and blunts responsiveness to natural rewards, propelling a cycle of hedonic dysregulation that drives addictive behavior. Here, we assessed whether a cognitive intervention for addiction, Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE), could restructure reward responsiveness from valuation of drug-related reward back to valuation of natural reward. Before and after 8 weeks of MORE or a support group control, prescription opioid users (N = 135) viewed opioid and natural reward cues while an electroencephalogram biomarker of target engagement was assessed. MORE was associated with decreased opioid cue-reactivity and enhanced capacity to regulate responses to opioid and natural reward cues. Increased positive affective responses to natural reward cues were associated with decreased craving and mediated MORE’s therapeutic effects on opioid misuse. This series of randomized experiments provide the first neurophysiological evidence that an integrative behavioral treatment can remediate hedonic dysregulation among chronic opioid users.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6795512/

 

Reduce the Complexity of Brain Activity with Meditation

Reduce the Complexity of Brain Activity with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“intensive and continued meditation practice is associated with enduring improvements in sustained attention.” – Anthony Zanesco

 

There has accumulated a large amount of research demonstrating that meditation practice has significant benefits for psychological, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. One way that meditation practices may produce these benefits is by altering the brain. The nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity. Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread areas. In other words, meditation practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits.

 

It is important to understand what are the exact changes in the brain that are produced by meditation. Studies of changes in brain activity with meditation suggest that meditators have more complicated information processing going on in their nervous systems at rest but during meditation greatly simplify that activity. But there are, a wide variety of meditation techniques that may have different consequences for brain changes. One category of these techniques is focused attention meditation, where the individual practices paying attention to a single meditation object, learns to filter out distracting stimuli, including thoughts, and learns to stay focused on the present moment, filtering out thoughts centered around the past or future.

 

In today’s Research News article “Controlling the Temporal Structure of Brain Oscillations by Focused Attention Meditation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6585826/), Irrmischer and colleagues examine the changes in brain activity with focused meditation. They recruited experienced meditators (> 5 years of experience) and meditation naïve control participants. They measured their brain activity with an Electroencephalogram (EEG) after eye closed rest and after 5 minutes of focused meditation. In a second study they recruited experienced meditators and healthy control participants. They again measured their brain activity with an Electroencephalogram (EEG) during and after eye closed rest and during and after 5 minutes of focused meditation.

 

In study 1, compared to after a rest condition, after focused meditation there were significant changes in cognitive content with a reduction in theory of mind, planning, sleepiness, verbal thought, health concerns, and discontinuity of mind, and increase in somatic awareness. Also, in comparison to baseline and the control participants, during focused meditation there was a reduction in the complexity of the brain activity with a reduction in long-range temporal correlations across every frequency band and across brain areas. These differences in the EEG were confirmed in study 2 and they found that after 1 year of meditation training there was a further significant reduction in the complexity of brain activity with a reduction in long-range temporal correlations. These differences were also present after eyes closed rest without meditation suggesting that there was an overall reduction in neural activity complexity.

 

These results are interesting and suggest that meditation changes the brain over time to produce less complexity in brain activity. This is similar to previous findings using a different analytic technique that meditation reduces the complexity of neural processing. It is not known but this decrease in complexity of brain activity may be reflective of the ability of meditation practice to increase attention and decrease mind wandering. Greater focus with less distraction would reduce the complexity of brain activity. This would make the brain more efficient and better able to carry out its important cognitive functions. These cognitive changes were reflected in the cognitive contents after meditation.

 

So, reduce the complexity of brain activity with meditation.

 

bringing attention back to the breath each time you feel your mind wandering during meditation helps strengthen the brain’s neural circuitry for focus.” – Nicole Bayes-Fleming

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Irrmischer, M., Houtman, S. J., Mansvelder, H. D., Tremmel, M., Ott, U., & Linkenkaer-Hansen, K. (2018). Controlling the Temporal Structure of Brain Oscillations by Focused Attention Meditation. Human brain mapping, 39(4), 1825–1838. doi:10.1002/hbm.23971

 

Abstract

Our focus of attention naturally fluctuates between different sources of information even when we desire to focus on a single object. Focused attention (FA) meditation is associated with greater control over this process, yet the neuronal mechanisms underlying this ability are not entirely understood. Here, we hypothesize that the capacity of attention to transiently focus and swiftly change relates to the critical dynamics emerging when neuronal systems balance at a point of instability between order and disorder. In FA meditation, however, the ability to stay focused is trained, which may be associated with a more homogeneous brain state. To test this hypothesis, we applied analytical tools from criticality theory to EEG in meditation practitioners and meditation‐naïve participants from two independent labs. We show that in practitioners—but not in controls—FA meditation strongly suppressed long‐range temporal correlations (LRTC) of neuronal oscillations relative to eyes‐closed rest with remarkable consistency across frequency bands and scalp locations. The ability to reduce LRTC during meditation increased after one year of additional training and was associated with the subjective experience of fully engaging one’s attentional resources, also known as absorption. Sustained practice also affected normal waking brain dynamics as reflected in increased LRTC during an eyes‐closed rest state, indicating that brain dynamics are altered beyond the meditative state. Taken together, our findings suggest that the framework of critical brain dynamics is promising for understanding neuronal mechanisms of meditative states and, specifically, we have identified a clear electrophysiological correlate of the FA meditation state.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6585826/

 

Improve Episodic Memory and Alter Brain Activity during Memory Retrieval with Mindfulness

Improve Episodic Memory and Alter Brain Activity during Memory Retrieval with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“A critical part of attention (and working memory capacity) is being able to ignore distraction. There has been growing evidence that meditation training (in particular mindfulness meditation) helps develop attentional control, and that this can start to happen very quickly.” – About Memory

 

There has accumulated a large amount of research demonstrating that mindfulness has significant benefits for psychological, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. One way that mindfulness practices may produce these benefits is by altering the brain. The nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity. Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread areas. In other words, mindfulness practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits.

 

One way to observe the effects of meditation techniques is to measure the effects of each technique on the brain’s activity. This can be done by recording the electroencephalogram (EEG). The brain produces rhythmic electrical activity that can be recorded from the scalp. It is usually separated into frequency bands. Delta activity consists of oscillations in the 0.5-3 cycles per second band. Theta activity in the EEG consists of oscillations in the 4-8 cycles per second band. Alpha activity consists of oscillations in the 8-12 cycles per second band. Beta activity consists of oscillations in the 13-30 cycles per second band while Gamma activity occurs in the 30-100 cycles per second band.

 

In today’s Research News article “Increases in Theta Oscillatory Activity During Episodic Memory Retrieval Following Mindfulness Meditation Training.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6738165/), Nyhus and colleagues recruited adult participants and randomly assigned them to a wait-list control condition or to receive 4-weeks of once a week for 1 hour of mindfulness meditation training along with 20 minutes of daily home practice. They were measured for episodic memory and mindfulness before and after training. They learned words either by imagining a place associated with them or rating their pleasantness. The electroencephalogram (EEG) was measured from the scalp as the participants were engaged in an episodic memory task.

 

They found that meditation training produced a significant increase in mindfulness, especially the observe, describe, and act with awareness facets. The meditation group were also significantly better at identifying the source (place or pleasantness) of the word in the episodic memory task. With the EEG they found that the meditation group after training had significant increases in power in the Theta frequency band (4-7.5 hz.) in the frontal and parietal cortical areas of the brain. The increase in theta power were correlated with the level of the describe facet of mindfulness.

 

Theta power has been previously found to increase during tasks that test episodic memory. That was true here also. But in the present study the increases in theta power were greater after mindfulness meditation training. This suggests that the training altered the nervous system making it more responsive to episodic memories. The fact that mindfulness has been found to improve memory and that source memory was improved in the present study would appear to support this assertion. Hence, it would appear that mindfulness meditation improves episodic memory by enhancing brain processing of memories.

 

So, improve episodic memory and alter brain activity during memory retrieval with mindfulness.

 

“The meditation-and-the-brain research has been rolling in steadily for a number of years now, . . . . The practice appears to have an amazing variety of neurological benefits – from changes in grey matter volume to reduced activity in the “me” centers of the brain to enhanced connectivity between brain regions.” – Alice Walton

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Nyhus, E., Engel, W. A., Pitfield, T. D., & Vakkur, I. (2019). Increases in Theta Oscillatory Activity During Episodic Memory Retrieval Following Mindfulness Meditation Training. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 13, 311. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2019.00311

 

Abstract

Mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve episodic memory and increase theta oscillations which are known to play a role in episodic memory retrieval. The present study examined the effect of mindfulness meditation on episodic memory retrieval and theta oscillations. Using a longitudinal design, subjects in the mindfulness meditation experimental group who underwent 4 weeks of mindfulness meditation training and practice were compared to a waitlist control group. During the pre-training and post-training experimental sessions, subjects completed the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) and studied adjectives and either imagined a scene (Place Task) or judged its pleasantness (Pleasant Task). During the recognition test, subjects decided which task was performed with each word (“Old Place Task” or “Old Pleasant Task”) or “New.” FFMQ scores and source discrimination were greater post-training than pre-training in the mindfulness meditation experimental group. Electroencephalography (EEG) results revealed that for the mindfulness meditation experimental group theta power was greater post-training than pre-training in right frontal and left parietal channels and changes in FFMQ scores correlated with changes in theta oscillations in right frontal channels (n = 20). The present results suggest that mindfulness meditation increases source memory retrieval and theta oscillations in a fronto-parietal network.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6738165/

 

Change the Brain’s Electrical Activity to during Sleep and Wakefulness with Meditation

Change the Brain’s Electrical Activity to during Sleep and Wakefulness with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Soon after beginning a meditation practice, many people report needing less sleep.” – Eoc Institute

 

We spend about a third of our lives in sleep, but we know very little about it. It is known that sleep is not a unitary phenomenon. Rather, it involves several different states that can be characterized by differences in physiological activation, neural activity, and subjective experiences. In the waking state the nervous system shows EEG activity that is termed low voltage fast activity. The electrical activity recorded from the scalp is rapidly changing but only with very small size waves. When sleep first occurs, the individual enters into a stage called slow-wave sleep, sometimes called non-REM sleep. The heart rate and blood pressure decline even further and the muscles become very soft and relaxed. In this state the EEG shows a characteristic waveform known as the theta rhythm, which is a large change in voltage recorded that oscillates at a rate of 4 to 8 cycles per second. As the individual goes even deeper into sleep something remarkable happens as the individual enters into rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep). Here the muscles become extremely inhibited and flaccid, but the eyes move rapidly under the closed eyelids as if the individual was looking around. At the same time the heart rate and blood pressure increase and become very variable and sometimes very high.

 

It has been shown that mindfulness training, including meditation practice, affects sleep and tends to improve sleep and reduce insomnia. But there is need to further investigate the effects of meditation practice, particularly long-term meditation practice, on brain activity during sleep and wakefulness to begin to understand the mechanisms by which meditation practice affects sleep and wakefulness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Acute effects of meditation training on the waking and sleeping brain: Is it all about homeostasis?” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6534352/), Dentico and colleagues recruited long-term meditators (at least 3-years of experience) and a group of age and gender matched non-meditators. They had their overnight electroencephalograms (EEG) recorded during sleep and after waking in the lab under three conditions, baseline, after a day of intensive focused meditation, and after a day of intensive loving kindness meditation. The meditation simulated a meditation retreat format for 2 days. The non-meditators rested during similar periods. They were also measured for depression, mental health issues, sleep disorders, insomnia, fatigue, sleepiness, and common phenomenological features of meditation.

 

They found that the sleep and waking EEGs were not different between the two types of meditation, focused or loving kindness. After intensive meditation practice there were significant increases after sleep in waking slow (8 hz.) and fast (15 hz.) waves in the EEG recorded from the prefrontal and parietal cortical regions. They also reported that the greater the amount of previous meditation experience the greater the waking high frequency waveforms after a day of intensive meditation. They also found that the EEG activities in in the theta frequency range (4-8 hz.) in different brain regions were highly related during non-REM sleep in long-term meditators.

 

These results are interesting and suggest that long-term meditation changes the brains activity during both sleep and wakefulness. The regions most affected, the prefrontal and parietal cortical regions, are associated with attentional processes. So, the results suggest that long-term meditation changes the brain to improve its ability to focus attention. They also suggest that long-term meditation increases the synchronization in different brain regions of activity during non-REM sleep. This may signal deeper levels of sleep. Regardless, the results suggest that meditation experience changes the brain’s activity in sleep and wakefulness.

 

So, change the brain’s electrical activity to during sleep and wakefulness with meditation.

 

meditation has lasting effects on the plastic brain, and that gamma activity during non-REM sleep may be a reliable marker for the extent of these changes.” – Plastic Brain

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Dentico D, Bachhuber D, Riedner BA, Ferrarelli F, Tononi G, Davidson RJ, Lutz A. Acute effects of meditation training on the waking and sleeping brain: Is it all about homeostasis? Eur J Neurosci. 2018 Sep;48(6):2310-2321. doi: 10.1111/ejn.14131. PMID: 30144201; PMCID: PMC6534352.

 

Abstract

Our recent finding of a meditation-related increase in low-frequency NREM sleep EEG oscillatory activities peaking in the theta-alpha range (4–12 Hz) was not predicted. From a consolidated body of research on sleep homeostasis, we would expect a change peaking in slow wave activity (1–4 Hz) following an intense meditation session. Here we compared these changes in sleep with the post-meditation changes in waking rest scalp power to further characterize their functional significance. High-density EEG recordings were acquired from 27 long-term meditators (LTM) on three separate days at baseline and following two 8-hr sessions of either mindfulness or compassion-and-loving-kindness meditation. Thirty-one meditation-naïve participants (MNP) were recorded at the same time points. As a common effect of meditation practice, we found increases in low and fast waking EEG oscillations for LTM only, peaking at eight and 15 Hz respectively, over prefrontal, and left centro-parietal electrodes. Paralleling our previous findings in sleep, there was no significant difference between meditation styles in LTM as well as no difference between matched sessions in MNP. Meditation-related changes in wakefulness and NREM sleep were correlated across space and frequency. A significant correlation was found in the EEG low frequencies (<12 Hz). Since the peak of coupling was observed in the theta-alpha oscillatory range, sleep homeostatic response to meditation practice is not sufficient to explain our findings. Another likely phenomenon into play is a reverberation of meditation-related processes during subsequent sleep. Future studies should ascertain the interplay between these processes in promoting the beneficial effects of meditation practice.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6534352/