Strengthen the Brain and Improve Cognition in Older Adults with Mindfulness

Strengthen the Brain and Improve Cognition in Older Adults with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness training, with its emphasis on present-focused attention and regulation of the habitual, reflexive tendencies of the mind, has the potential to enhance cognitive control operations in the elderly and the neural circuitry associated with it.” – Ruchika S Prakash

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline of the body and the brain. Every system in the body deteriorates including cognitive function (thinking ability) and motor function with a decline in strength, flexibility, and balance. There is some hope as there is evidence that these declines can be slowed. For example, a healthy diet and a regular program of exercise can slow the physical and cognitive decline of the body with aging. Also, contemplative practices such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi or qigong have all been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline. Research has found that mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue. Indeed, the brains of practitioners of meditation and yoga have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Training Improves Cognition and Strengthens Intrinsic Connectivity Between the Hippocampus and Posteromedial Cortex in Healthy Older Adults.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8430251/ ) Sevinc and colleagues recruited healthy elderly participants (aged 65 to 80 years) who were evaluated as cognitively normal and randomly assigned them to receive either mindfulness training or cognitive fitness training. Mindfulness training was delivered in 8 weekly 105 minute sessions and was modelled after the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program containing training in meditation, body scan, and yoga along with discussion and daily home practice. The cognitive fitness training consisted of 8 weekly 1-hour sessions of word finding and crossword puzzle solving along with home puzzle solving. They were measured before and after training for memory and cognitive performance. In addition, their brains were scanned before and after training with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

 

They found that in comparison to baseline the group that received mindfulness training had significant increases in cognitive performance, primarily due to episodic memory improvement, while the cognitive fitness training group did not. The brain scans revealed that the mindfulness group had increased functional connectivity between the hippocampus and the angular gyrus. Additionally, the improved cognitive performance after mindfulness training was associated with increased connectivity between the precuneus and the hippocampus.

 

The findings suggest that mindfulness training improves cognition in cognitively intact elderly individuals. This may be why mindfulness training has been shown to reduce age related cognitive decline and dementia. The results also suggest that these improvements in cognition may be related to changes in the connectivity of the brain. The observed changes produced by mindfulness training were in the connectivity between the hippocampus and the precuneus and between the hippocampus and the angular gyrus. These are structures included in what is known as the brain’s default mode network, which is known to have decreased activity in association with age-related cognitive decline. So, the improved connectivity may indicate that mindfulness training protects the brain from deterioration associated with aging and this may be responsible for improved cognition in the elderly.

 

So, strengthen the brain and improve cognition in older adults with mindfulness.

 

recent research suggests about how mindfulness meditation practice may help keep aging brains fit and functional.” – Grace Bullock

 

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

 

Sevinc, G., Rusche, J., Wong, B., Datta, T., Kaufman, R., Gutz, S. E., Schneider, M., Todorova, N., Gaser, C., Thomalla, G., Rentz, D., Dickerson, B. D., & Lazar, S. W. (2021). Mindfulness Training Improves Cognition and Strengthens Intrinsic Connectivity Between the Hippocampus and Posteromedial Cortex in Healthy Older Adults. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 13, 702796. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2021.702796

 

Abstract

Maintaining optimal cognitive functioning throughout the lifespan is a public health priority. Evaluation of cognitive outcomes following interventions to promote and preserve brain structure and function in older adults, and associated neural mechanisms, are therefore of critical importance. In this randomized controlled trial, we examined the behavioral and neural outcomes following mindfulness training (n = 72), compared to a cognitive fitness program (n = 74) in healthy, cognitively normal, older adults (65–80 years old). To assess cognitive functioning, we used the Preclinical Alzheimer Cognitive Composite (PACC), which combines measures of episodic memory, executive function, and global cognition. We hypothesized that mindfulness training would enhance cognition, increase intrinsic functional connectivity measured with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) between the hippocampus and posteromedial cortex, as well as promote increased gray matter volume within those regions. Following the 8-week intervention, the mindfulness training group showed improved performance on the PACC, while the control group did not. Furthermore, following mindfulness training, greater improvement on the PACC was associated with a larger increase in intrinsic connectivity within the default mode network, particularly between the right hippocampus and posteromedial cortex and between the left hippocampus and lateral parietal cortex. The cognitive fitness training group did not show such effects. These findings demonstrate that mindfulness training improves cognitive performance in cognitively intact older individuals and strengthens connectivity within the default mode network, which is particularly vulnerable to aging affects.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8430251/

 

Increase Brain Activity with Brief Exercise and Meditation

Increase Brain Activity with Brief Exercise and Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Meditating for a few minutes might help rein in those wandering thoughts and help you stay focused throughout the day. But meditating can have an even bigger impact. Some studies show that it affects the brain in various ways, from changing the brain’s volume to decreasing activity in the parts of the brain responsible for stress.” – Lela Moore

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with reducing the physical and psychological reactions to stress. There are a number of ways that meditation practices produce these benefits, including changes to the brain and physiology. The nervous system changes in response to how it is used and how it is stimulated in a process called neuroplasticity. Highly used areas grow in size, metabolism, and connectivity. Mindfulness practices in general are known to produce these kinds of changes in the structure and activity of the brain. One way to observe the effects of meditation on the nervous system is to measure changes in the functional near‐infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), which measures blood flow to brain areas.

 

In today’s Research News article “Activation of the orbitofrontal cortex by both meditation and exercise: A near-infrared spectroscopy study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7901739/ ) Miyashiro and colleagues recruited healthy adults and had them perform 20 minutes of breath following meditation, exercise (pushups), or a control task (movie of scenery with relaxing music) in a random order. They then performed a 2-back test of attention involving presentation of a sequence of numbers and after a prompt, the recall of the number 2 places back. While performing this task the participants underwent measurement of brain activation with functional near‐infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS).

 

They did not observe a significant difference between groups on the 2-back test. But in comparison to the control condition, the meditation and exercise groups had significantly increased activation of the edges of the orbitofrontal cortex (insular cortex) that then spread to the central orbitofrontal cortex. The 20-minute interventions were too short to invoke neuroplasticity and produce long-lasting changes in this brain. The orbitofrontal cortex is known to be involved in attention. So, it is not surprising that attention demanding exercise and meditation would alter its activity while the plotless video would invoke mind wandering and a loss of attention.

 

So, increase brain activity with brief exercise and meditation.

 

]“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

 

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

 

Miyashiro, S., Yamada, Y., Muta, T., Ishikawa, H., Abe, T., Hori, M., Oka, K., Koshikawa, F., & Ito, E. (2021). Activation of the orbitofrontal cortex by both meditation and exercise: A near-infrared spectroscopy study. PloS one, 16(2), e0247685. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0247685

 

Abstract

In some types of meditation, such as mindfulness and Zen, breathing is the focus of attention, whereas during an excessive, short-period of anaerobic exercise, the muscles become the focus of attention. Thus, during both efforts, one’s attention is focused on a certain feature of the body. Both meditation and exercise generally provide mental refreshment to humans. We hypothesized that the same brain regions are activated by both efforts in humans. To examine this hypothesis, we engaged participants in 3 tasks: meditation, exercise, and a control task. After each task, the participants underwent a 2-back test to concentrate their thoughts, while changes in their blood hemoglobin levels were simultaneously monitored using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). Seventeen participants (20–24 years of age; 11 men, 6 women) were enrolled. We applied a fast-Fourier transform (FFT) analysis to the NIRS wave data and calculated the correlation coefficients of the FFT data between (1) meditation and control, (2) exercise and control, and (3) meditation and exercise, at the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), brain areas that are generally involved in mental refreshment. A significant difference in the correlation coefficients between the OFC and DLPFC was detected in the meditation and exercise analysis, and signal source analysis confirmed that the NIRS waves spread from the right and left OFC edges (i.e., right and left temples) toward the center. Our results suggest that both meditation and exercise activate the OFC, which is involved in emotional reactions and motivation behavior, resulting in mental refreshment.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7901739/

Improve Working Memory and Increase Brain Activity with a Single Focused Meditation in Novice Meditators

Improve Working Memory and Increase Brain Activity with a Single Focused Meditation in Novice Meditators

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Regular meditation increases blood flow to the brain, which leads to a stronger network of blood vessels in the cerebral cortex and reinforces memory capacity.” – Mindworks

 

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. Mindfulness has been shown to improve working memory capacity. Since the brain is responsible for working memory, the effects of mindfulness training on working memory must in some way be altering the brain. One way to observe the effects of meditation on the nervous system is to measure changes in the functional near‐infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), which measures blood flow to brain areas. Hence, it makes sense to observe the effects of meditation on working memory and its association with cerebral flows.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of one-session focused attention meditation on the working memory capacity of meditation novices: A functional near-infrared spectroscopy study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8413779/ ) Yamaya and colleagues recruited adult meditation naïve university students and randomly assigned them to practice for 15 minutes focused breath following meditation or listen to disconnected random conversations. During the 15-minute intervention period cerebral blood flow was measured with functional near‐infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). They were also measured 5 minutes before and 5 minutes after the 15-minute intervention period for working (short-term) memory.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the random thinking control group, the group that performed focused meditation had a significant increase in working memory capacity and a significant increase in cerebral blood flow to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. They found that the working memory change and the cerebral blood flow change were significantly correlated such that the greater the increase in cerebral blood flow, the greater the increase in working memory.

 

The results are interesting that a single 15-minute meditation by meditation naïve participants immediately increases working memory. The results further suggest that this memory improvement is associated with an increase in the flow of blood to a particular brain area, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, that has been shown to be involved in focused attention. This suggests that focused meditation activates the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex which improves working memory.

 

The very short-term nature of the study precludes any neuroplastic changes in the brain. But previous research has found that longer-term meditation produces long-term changes in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. It is unfortunate that in the present study there wasn’t a follow up to determine if the effects of the single 15-minute meditation were immediate and transitory or persisted for a period of time. Regardless, the results may provide a glimpse as to how meditation changes brain systems and in turn memory.

 

So, improve working memory and increase brain activity with a single focused meditation in novice meditators.

 

the mindfulness group had significantly less proactive interference during the memory test compared to the writing group, indicating an improvement in short-term memory.” – Jill Suttie

 

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

 

Yamaya, N., Tsuchiya, K., Takizawa, I., Shimoda, K., Kitazawa, K., & Tozato, F. (2021). Effect of one-session focused attention meditation on the working memory capacity of meditation novices: A functional near-infrared spectroscopy study. Brain and behavior, 11(8), e2288. https://doi.org/10.1002/brb3.2288

 

Abstract

Introduction

Previous studies have revealed that one‐session focused attention meditation (FAM) can improve top‐down attention control, which is one of the factors of working memory capacity (WMC). In addition, FAM shares various neural substrates, including the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), with WMC. Thus, we hypothesized that one‐session FAM would improve WMC by activating the DLPFC evoked by the top‐down attention control. In this study, we examined whether FAM modified WMC in individuals with little to no meditation experience.

Methods

The participants were randomly assigned to either the FAM group (N = 13) or the control group (N = 17) who engaged in random thinking (i.e., mind‐wandering). Before and after each 15‐min intervention, the participants’ WMC was measured according to the total number of correct answers in the Reading Span Test. During each intervention, functional near‐infrared spectroscopy was employed to measure the blood flow in the participants’ DLPFC and determine the top‐down attention control effect.

Results

In the FAM group, WMC increased, and the bilateral DLPFC was activated during the intervention. As for the control group, WMC decreased after the intervention, and the bilateral DLPFC was not activated during the intervention. A correlation was also found among all participants between the increase in WMC and the activation of the bilateral DLPFC.

Conclusion

The study findings suggest that top‐down attention control during FAM can activate the bilateral DLPFC and increase WMC among meditation novices.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8413779/

 

Different Meditation Types Alter Brain Connectivity Patters Differently Over the Long Term

Different Meditation Types Alter Brain Connectivity Patters Differently Over the Long Term

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“[Meditation], regardless of each individual’s chosen object of attention, increases functional connectivity within attentional networks as well as increases connectivity across distributed brain regions serving attention, self-referential, and visual processes.” – Zongpai Zhang

 

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.

 

In today’s Research News article “Neuroplasticity within and between Functional Brain Networks in Mental Training Based on Long-Term Meditation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8393942/ ) Guidotti and colleagues recruited Buddhist monks highly experienced with both focused and open monitoring meditation (average of 16.4 years of practice with an average of 1200 hours of practice per year). They underwent functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) brain scans during 6-minute meditations with focused and with open monitoring techniques.

 

They found that connectivity patterns were associated with the age of the participants during both meditation techniques. On the other hand, connectivity patterns were associated with years of meditation experience differently during focused versus open monitoring meditation. During both meditation types the functional connectivity within the Salience Network of the brain was reduced. During focused meditation there was increased connectivity within the Visual Network. During open monitoring meditation there was increase connectivity within the Executive Network and between the Executive and Language Networks. During open monitoring meditation there was also increase connectivity with Sensorimotor Network and its connections with the Default Mode Network.

 

These results are complicated and involve only experienced meditators. So, it is unknown whether the findings apply to novice or less experienced meditators and it cannot be determined what the differences might be in the brains of these highly experience meditators compared to non-meditators. But the results suggest that during focused and open monitoring meditation types have the same relationships with age related connectivity patterns in the brain while they have different associations with connectivity patterns in association with experience. This suggests that the two meditation types produce different neuroplastic changes in the brain as experience accumulates.

 

So, different meditation types alter brain connectivity patters differently over the long term.

 

people who meditate may actually have quicker brains than the rest of us. . . meditation can improve your brain’s ability to quickly switch between two main states of consciousness.” – Katie Spalding

 

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

 

Guidotti, R., Del Gratta, C., Perrucci, M. G., Romani, G. L., & Raffone, A. (2021). Neuroplasticity within and between Functional Brain Networks in Mental Training Based on Long-Term Meditation. Brain sciences, 11(8), 1086. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11081086

 

Abstract

(1) The effects of intensive mental training based on meditation on the functional and structural organization of the human brain have been addressed by several neuroscientific studies. However, how large-scale connectivity patterns are affected by long-term practice of the main forms of meditation, Focused Attention (FA) and Open Monitoring (OM), as well as by aging, has not yet been elucidated. (2) Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and multivariate pattern analysis, we investigated the impact of meditation expertise and age on functional connectivity patterns in large-scale brain networks during different meditation styles in long-term meditators. (3) The results show that fMRI connectivity patterns in multiple key brain networks can differentially predict the meditation expertise and age of long-term meditators. Expertise-predictive patterns are differently affected by FA and OM, while age-predictive patterns are not influenced by the meditation form. The FA meditation connectivity pattern modulated by expertise included nodes and connections implicated in focusing, sustaining and monitoring attention, while OM patterns included nodes associated with cognitive control and emotion regulation. (4) The study highlights a long-term effect of meditation practice on multivariate patterns of functional brain connectivity and suggests that meditation expertise is associated with specific neuroplastic changes in connectivity patterns within and between multiple brain networks.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8393942/

 

Meditation Strengthens Brain Attentional Networks

Meditation Strengthens Brain Attentional Networks

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“meditation practice appears to positively impact attentional functions by improving resource allocation processes. As a result, attentional resources are allocated more fully during early processing phases which subsequently enhance further processing.” – Peter Malinowski

 

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 area. and have found that meditation practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits. These brain changes with mindfulness practice are important and need to be further investigates.

 

Meditation practice results in a shift in mental processing. It produces a reduction of mind wandering and self-referential thinking and an increase in attention and higher-level thinking. The neural system that underlies mind wandering is termed the Default Mode Network (DMN) and consists in a set of brain structures including medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate, lateral temporal cortex and the hippocampus. The neural system that underlies attention and is termed the Dorsal Attentional Network (DAN). and includes the frontal eye fields and the areas around the precentral sulcus and intraparietal sulcus. It is possible, then, that meditation over time produces changes in these brain areas improving attentional ability.

 

In today’s Research News article “Attention and Default Mode Network Assessments of Meditation Experience during Active Cognition and Rest.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8144977/ ) Devaney and colleagues recruited experienced meditators (average of 7 years of practice) and non-meditators matched on demographic variables. The participants performed attention tasks (multiple object tracking, a sustained attention task, and oddball tasks, a sustained spatial attention task) while having their brains scanned with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

 

There were no significant differences between the experienced meditators and the matched controls in their performance of the attention tasks. But during the sustained attention task the meditators in comparison to the controls had increases in activation of the brain’s Dorsal Attentional Network at the same time as a significant decrease in the brain’s Default Mode Network. In addition, during the sustained attention task the meditators had significantly greater anticorrelations of activity between the two networks indicating higher levels of inhibitory activity between networks.

 

The Dorsal Attentional Network has been shown to be involved in focused attention. Hence, the results suggest that experience in meditation improves the response of the brain areas responsible for focused attention when needed. Alternatively, the Default Mode Network has been shown to be involved in mind wandering. Hence, the results suggest that experience in meditation reduces the response of the brain areas responsible a loss of focused attention and mind wandering when needed. Further, the results suggest that experience in meditation leads to a greater ability of the brain to focus attention while preventing mind wandering.

 

The fact that experienced meditators did not differ from controls in attentional task performance is a bit disappointing. But on average the meditators performed better but because of a small number of participants, the differences were not statistically significant. Perhaps with larger groups differences would be found. But the lack of statistical power makes the significant brain activation differences observed during sustained attention even more striking. This all suggests that meditation practice shapes the brain for better attentional ability.

 

So, meditation strengthens brain attentional network.

 

Meditation is an important form of self-control and a healthy practice. It augments focus and attention and could be used to enhance empathy and all attentional capacities.” – Gabriel José Corrêa Mograbi

 

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

 

Devaney, K.J.; Levin, E.J.; Tripathi, V.; Higgins, J.P.; Lazar, S.W.; Somers, D.C. Attention and Default Mode Network Assessments of Meditation Experience during Active Cognition and Rest. Brain Sci. 2021, 11, 566. https://doi.org/10.3390/ brainsci11050566

 

Abstract: Meditation experience has previously been shown to improve performance on behavioral assessments of attention, but the neural bases of this improvement are unknown. Two prominent, strongly competing networks exist in the human cortex: a dorsal attention network, that is activated during focused attention, and a default mode network, that is suppressed during attentionally demanding tasks. Prior studies suggest that strong anti-correlations between these networks indicate good brain health. In addition, a third network, a ventral attention network, serves as a “circuit-breaker” that transiently disrupts and redirects focused attention to permit salient stimuli to capture attention. Here, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to contrast cortical network activation between experienced focused attention Vipassana meditators and matched controls. Participants performed two attention tasks during scanning: a sustained attention task and an attention-capture task. Meditators demonstrated increased magnitude of differential activation in the dorsal attention vs. default mode network in a sustained attention task, relative to controls. In contrast, there were no evident attention network differences between meditators and controls in an attentional reorienting paradigm. A resting state functional connectivity analysis revealed a greater magnitude of anticorrelation between dorsal attention and default mode networks in the meditators as compared to both our local control group and a n = 168 Human Connectome Project dataset. These results demonstrate, with both task- and rest-based fMRI data, increased stability in sustained attention processes without an associated attentional capture cost in meditators. Task and resting-state results, which revealed stronger anticorrelations between dorsal attention and default mode networks in experienced mediators than in controls, are consistent with a brain health benefit of long-term meditation practice.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8144977/

 

Improve Brain Processing in Mood Dysregulated Adolescents with Mindfulness

Improve Brain Processing in Mood Dysregulated Adolescents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness-based interventions—practices that promote non-judgmental attention to the present—can help individuals respond with acceptance to challenging circumstances or emotions and is a promising approach to treatment of mood lability.” – D. M. Hafemann

 

Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. But it can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. This can lead to emotional and behavioral problems. Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health of adolescents

 

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. The brains of adolescents are different from fully mature adult brains. They are dynamically growing and changing. It is unclear how mindfulness affects their maturing brains particularly in adolescents who have mood dysregulations.

 

In today’s Research News article “Network-level functional topological changes after mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in mood dysregulated adolescents at familial risk for bipolar disorder: a pilot study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8080341/ ) Qin and colleagues recruited adolescents (13-17 years of age) who were mood dysregulated and who had at least one biological parent with bipolar disorder. They were provided a once a week for 75 minutes for 12-weeks program of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) adapted for children along with home practice. They were measured before and after training for emotion regulation, depressive and manic symptoms, overall global functioning, and clinical ratings. They also had their brains scanned with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

 

In comparison to baseline they found that after Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) there were surprisingly no significant changes in emotion regulation, depressive and manic symptoms, overall global functioning, and clinical ratings. But there were significant increases in network efficiency and decreases in path length in the cingulo-opercular network and frontal parietal network and increases in the connectivity of brain structures within the cingulo-opercular network and the default mode network. In addition, the shorter the path length within the cingulo-opercular network the higher the level of emotion regulation.

 

These results need to be interpreted with caution as there was no control comparison condition and so there are potential confounding variables that could account for the results. But the psychological results are very disappointing. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) has been routinely found to improve emotions and emotion regulation in previous research. But it did not in the present study. It is possible that unlike with adults, MBCT is simply ineffective in improving the psychological health of mood dysregulated adolescents.

 

On the other hand, the functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) findings were interesting. The cingulo-opercular network and frontal parietal network are both involved in top-down cognitive control. The observed increases in network efficiency within these networks after Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) suggests that MBCT improves the ability of mood dysregulated adolescents to control their thinking. This is exactly what MBCT is designed to do. Unfortunately, the researchers did not measure cognitive ability in this study, so there is no confirmatory behavioral results. The increased emotion regulation associated with decreases in path length in the cingulo-opercular network, though, suggests that the changes in the youths’ brains may be associated with improved ability to control their emotions. This may suggest an a lessened chance of developing major mental illness in the future.

 

So, Improve Brain Processing in Mood Dysregulated Adolescents with Mindfulness.

 

With low level of mindfulness, adolescents might be lack of emotion clarity, self-control and acceptance, which in turn might lead to their poor realization of emotion and easy immersion into dysfunctional emotional reactions such as impulse and aggressive behavior toward others or blame to themselves.” – Ying Ma

 

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

 

Qin, K., Lei, D., Yang, J., Li, W., Tallman, M. J., Duran, L., Blom, T. J., Bruns, K. M., Cotton, S., Sweeney, J. A., Gong, Q., & DelBello, M. P. (2021). Network-level functional topological changes after mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in mood dysregulated adolescents at familial risk for bipolar disorder: a pilot study. BMC psychiatry, 21(1), 213. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-021-03211-4

 

Abstract

Background

Given that psychopharmacological approaches routinely used to treat mood-related problems may result in adverse outcomes in mood dysregulated adolescents at familial risk for bipolar disorder (BD), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Children (MBCT-C) provides an alternative effective and safe option. However, little is known about the brain mechanisms of beneficial outcomes from this intervention. Herein, we aimed to investigate the network-level neurofunctional effects of MBCT-C in mood dysregulated adolescents.

Methods

Ten mood dysregulated adolescents at familial risk for BD underwent a 12-week MBCT-C intervention. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was performed prior to and following MBCT-C. Topological metrics of three intrinsic functional networks (default mode network (DMN), fronto-parietal network (FPN) and cingulo-opercular network (CON)) were investigated respectively using graph theory analysis.

Results

Following MBCT-C, mood dysregulated adolescents showed increased global efficiency and decreased characteristic path length within both CON and FPN. Enhanced functional connectivity strength of frontal and limbic areas were identified within the DMN and CON. Moreover, change in characteristic path length within the CON was suggested to be significantly related to change in the Emotion Regulation Checklist score.

Conclusions

12-week MBCT-C treatment in mood dysregulated adolescents at familial risk for BD yield network-level neurofunctional effects within the FPN and CON, suggesting enhanced functional integration of the dual-network. Decreased characteristic path length of the CON may be associated with the improvement of emotion regulation following mindfulness training. However, current findings derived from small sample size should be interpreted with caution. Future randomized controlled trials including larger samples are critical to validate our findings.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8080341/

 

Improve Nervous System and Cognitive Function with Tai Chi

Improve Nervous System and Cognitive Function with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“tai chi appears to improve executive function—the ability to multitask, manage time, and make decisions—in people without any cognitive decline. In those with mild cognitive impairment, tai chi slowed the progression to dementia.” – Harvard Health

 

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese practice involving mindfulness and gentle movements. It is easy to learn, safe, and gentle. Tai Chi has been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevityTai Chi training is designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through controlled breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. Only recently though have the effects of this practice been scrutinized with empirical research. This research has found that it is effective for an array of physical and psychological issues. It appears to strengthen the immune systemreduce inflammation and increase the number of cancer killing cells in the bloodstream, improve cardiovascular healthreduce arthritis painimprove balance and reduce falls. It also appears to improve attentional ability improve cognitive ability in the elderly, and relieve depression.

 

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. Hence, it would appear likely that Tai Chi practice may alter the brain networks underlying mindfulness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai Chi Chuan Alters Brain Functional Network Plasticity and Promotes Cognitive Flexibility.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.665419/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1671974_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20210701_arts_A ) Cui and colleagues recruited healthy adults and randomly assigned them to either a control condition or to 3, 60 minute sessions per week for 8 weeks of aerobic exercise (Brisk walking) or Tai Chi practice. Before and after practice they were measured for cognitive flexibility and they also had their brains scanned with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

 

They found that only after Tai Chi practice there was a significant increase in cognitive flexibility. The fMRI revealed that Tai Chi practice increased brain local efficiency compared with general aerobic exercise. Local efficiency reflects brain information transmission and processing in local densely interconnected areas. Tai Chi practice also increased the clustering coefficient of brain activity which reflects how well brain areas connect with other areas. Tai Chi practice increased Nodal global efficiency which reflects the efficiency of information transmission within brain networks. Importantly, they found that the higher the Nodal global efficiency the greater the level of cognitive flexibility. These changes with Tai Chi practice suggest that it increases brain specialization and that this is related to better cognitive ability.

 

A strength of the present study was that Tai Chi practice was compared to another aerobic exercise, brisk walking. So, it can be concluded that the effects observed were due to Tai Chi practice per se and not to the exercise provided by Tai Chi. The findings suggest then that practicing Tai Chi changes the brain making it better interconnected with a greater ability to share information and these changes are associated with greater cognitive flexibility. This shows that Tai Chi practice changes the brain in beneficial ways. This may be responsible for the ability of Tai Chi practice to improve the physical and psychological processes especially in the elderly.

 

So, improve nervous system and cognitive function with Tai Chi.

 

Tai Chi, a multicomponent mind-body exercise, combines slow physical activity with relaxation to serve as a movement meditation. Prior trials suggested that the beneficial effects of Tai Chi are created by a physical component which capitalizes on the benefits of physical exercise and a mind component which additionally promotes psychological well-being, life satisfaction, and improved perception of health.” – Chunlin Yue

 

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

 

Cui L, Tao S, Yin H-c, Shen Q-q, Wang Y, Zhu L-n and Li X-j (2021) Tai Chi Chuan Alters Brain Functional Network Plasticity and Promotes Cognitive Flexibility. Front. Psychol. 12:665419. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.665419

 

Objective: This study used resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the effects of 8 weeks of Tai Chi Chuan and general aerobic exercise on the topological parameters of brain functional networks, explored the advantages of Tai Chi Chuan for improving functional network plasticity and cognitive flexibility, and examined how changes in topological attributes of brain functional networks relate to cognitive flexibility.

Methods: Thirty-six healthy adults were grouped into Tai Chi Chuan (Bafa Wubu of Tai Chi), general aerobic exercise (brisk walking), and control groups. All of the subjects underwent fMRI and behavioral assessment before and after the exercise intervention.

Results: Tai Chi Chuan exercise significantly enhanced the clustering coefficient and local efficiency compared with general aerobic exercise. Regarding the nodal properties, Tai Chi Chuan significantly enhanced the nodal clustering coefficient of the bilateral olfactory cortex and left thalamus, significantly reduced the nodal clustering coefficient of the left inferior temporal gyrus, significantly improved the nodal efficiency of the right precuneus and bilateral posterior cingulate gyrus, and significantly improved the nodal local efficiency of the left thalamus and right olfactory cortex. Furthermore, the behavioral performance results demonstrated that cognitive flexibility was enhanced by Tai Chi Chuan. The change in the nodal clustering coefficient in the left thalamus induced by Tai Chi Chuan was a significant predictor of cognitive flexibility.

Conclusion: These findings demonstrated that Tai Chi Chuan could promote brain functional specialization. Brain functional specialization enhanced by Tai Chi Chuan exercise was a predictor of greater cognitive flexibility.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.665419/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1671974_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20210701_arts_A

 

Meditation Increases Functional Connectivity of Brain Networks

Meditation Increases Functional Connectivity of Brain Networks

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

It seems the longer you do meditation, the better your brain will be at self-regulation,” – Bin He

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with reducing the physical and psychological reactions to stress. There are a number of ways that meditation practices produce these benefits, including changes to the brain and physiology. The nervous system changes in response to how it is used and how it is stimulated in a process called neuroplasticity. Highly used areas grow in size, metabolism, and connectivity. Mindfulness practices in general are known to produce these kinds of changes in the structure and activity of the brain. There is little research, however, on how these changes develop with meditation.

 

In today’s Research News article “Longitudinal effects of meditation on brain resting-state functional connectivity.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8166909/ ) Zhang and colleagues recruited novice meditators enrolled in a university meditation course. They practiced focused attention meditation over 2 months twice a week in class and at home 5 times per week for 10 minutes. Before and after training the students had their brains scanned with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (f-MRI).

 

They found that after the 2-month meditation training the participants had significant increases in the functional connectivity within the Dorsal Attention Network of the brain and between the Dorsal Attention Network and the Default Mode Network and also between the Default Mode Network and the visual cortex.

 

The Dorsal Attention Network is a series of structures in the brain that are associated with attentional focusing while the Default Mode Network is a series of structures in the brain that are associated with self-referential thought and mind wandering. Typically, during focused attention meditation, particularly in novice meditators, the mind switches back and forth between focus on the object of meditation and unfocused mind wandering. During mind wandering, visualizations of this content often occur. This usually occurs repeatedly during the meditation session. This switching involves going back and forth between the Dorsal Attention Network and the Default Mode Network and the visual areas of the brain. The brain scan findings indicate that this results in an increase in the functional connectivity between the two networks. Hence, the changes in the mental contents during meditation are reflected in brain activity.

 

So, meditation increases functional connectivity of brain networks.

 

So, not only did meditation change the structures in the participants’ brains, it also changed how they felt.” – Lela Moore

 

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

 

Zhang, Z., Luh, W. M., Duan, W., Zhou, G. D., Weinschenk, G., Anderson, A. K., & Dai, W. (2021). Longitudinal effects of meditation on brain resting-state functional connectivity. Scientific reports, 11(1), 11361. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-90729-y

 

Abstract

Changes in brain resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) were investigated using a longitudinal design by following a 2-month focused attention meditation (FAM) practice and analyzing their association with FAM practice time. Ten novice meditators were recruited from a university meditation course. Participants were scanned with a resting-state fMRI sequence with multi-echo EPI acquisition at baseline and at the 2-month follow-up. Total FAM practice time was calculated from the daily log of the participants. We observed significantly increased rsFC between the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) and dorsal attention network (DAN), the right middle temporal (RMT) region and default mode network (DMN), the left and right superior parietal lobules (LSPL/RSPL) and DMN, and the LSPL/RSPL and DAN. Furthermore, the rsFC between the LSPL and medial prefrontal cortex was significantly associated with the FAM practice time. These results demonstrate increased connectivity within the DAN, between the DMN and DAN, and between the DMN and visual cortex. These findings demonstrate that FAM can enhance the brain connection among and within brain networks, especially DMN and DAN, indicating potential effect of FAM on fast switching between mind wandering and focused attention and maintaining attention once in the attentive state.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8166909/

 

Different Meditation Styles Affect the Medial Frontal Brain Network Differently

Different Meditation Styles Affect the Medial Frontal Brain Network Differently

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“meditation has a variety of neurological benefits, from changes in brain volume to decreasing activity in parts of the brain involved with stress.” – Ashley Welch

 

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. How exactly mindfulness practices produce their benefits is unknown. But it is known that meditation practice alters brain activity.

 

There are a number of different types of meditation. Classically they’ve been characterized on a continuum with the degree and type of attentional focus. In focused attention meditation, the individual practices paying attention to a single meditation object, usually the breath. In open monitoring meditation, the individual opens up awareness to everything that’s being experienced including thoughts regardless of its origin. In Loving Kindness Meditation the individual

systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being. It is suspected but not known that different forms of meditation practice can produce different changes in brain activity.

 

One way is to measure changes in the electroencephalogram (EEG), the rhythmic electrical activity that can be recorded from the scalp. In today’s Research News article “Attentional and cognitive monitoring brain networks in long-term meditators depend on meditation states and expertise.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7921394/ )  Yordanova and colleagues recruited highly experienced meditators who practiced focused attention meditation, open monitoring meditation, and Loving Kindness Meditation in a balanced way. They had their electroencephalograms (EEG) recorded while at rest and while performing the 3 meditation types for 3 minutes each.

 

They found that the Frontal-Parietal network, that is thought to underlie attentional mechanisms did not differ between meditation types. But there was increased connectivity between the right hemisphere frontal and left hemisphere parietal areas. On the other hand, the Medial Frontal network that is thought to underlie cognitive control and monitoring mechanisms had different activity patterns with the different meditation types. During focused attention meditation was increased synchronization in the parietal regions whereas during Loving Kindness Meditation it increased in the right frontal regions.

 

These are interesting findings that demonstrate that highly experienced meditators have distinct changes in the activity of their brains during meditation regardless of type. But in areas associated with cognitive monitoring mechanisms, difference appear. During focused attention meditation and Loving Kindness Meditation there are different patterns of activity. To some extent this is not surprising in that the two meditation types involve specific focuses. But Loving Kindness Meditation is emotionally focused while focused attention meditation is breath sensation focused and these require different kinds of cognitive control. These differences may underlie the different medial frontal activities.

 

It should be noted that these patterns are quite different from those of inexperienced meditators and that the greater the amount of practice the greater the neural activations. It would be expected that highly experienced meditators would have greater focus and much less mind wandering during meditation than inexperience meditators and this would produce different patterns of neural activation.

 

So, different meditation styles affect the medial frontal brain network differently.

 

Meditation benefits for the brain are abundant. Meditating strengthens neural connections and can literally change the configuration of these networks. With regular practice, you can cultivate a more resilient neurobiology.” – Ask the Scientists

 

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

 

Yordanova, J., Kolev, V., Nicolardi, V., Simione, L., Mauro, F., Garberi, P., Raffone, A., & Malinowski, P. (2021). Attentional and cognitive monitoring brain networks in long-term meditators depend on meditation states and expertise. Scientific reports, 11(1), 4909. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-84325-3

 

Abstract

Meditation practice is suggested to engage training of cognitive control systems in the brain. To evaluate the functional involvement of attentional and cognitive monitoring processes during meditation, the present study analysed the electroencephalographic synchronization of fronto-parietal (FP) and medial-frontal (MF) brain networks in highly experienced meditators during different meditation states (focused attention, open monitoring and loving kindness meditation). The aim was to assess whether and how the connectivity patterns of FP and MF networks are modulated by meditation style and expertise. Compared to novice meditators, (1) highly experienced meditators exhibited a strong theta synchronization of both FP and MF networks in left parietal regions in all mediation styles, and (2) only the connectivity of lateralized beta MF networks differentiated meditation styles. The connectivity of intra-hemispheric theta FP networks depended non-linearly on meditation expertise, with opposite expertise-dependent patterns found in the left and the right hemisphere. In contrast, inter-hemispheric FP connectivity in faster frequency bands (fast alpha and beta) increased linearly as a function of expertise. The results confirm that executive control systems play a major role in maintaining states of meditation. The distinctive lateralized involvement of FP and MF networks appears to represent a major functional mechanism that supports both generic and style-specific meditation states. The observed expertise-dependent effects suggest that functional plasticity within executive control networks may underpin the emergence of unique meditation states in expert meditators.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7921394/

 

Meditation Changes the Brain Areas Underlying Executive Function and Mind Wandering

Meditation Changes the Brain Areas Underlying Executive Function and Mind Wandering

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“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. There are a number of ways that mindfulness practices produce these benefits, including changes to the brain and physiology. 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.

 

In today’s Research News article “Resting State Functional Connectivity Associated With Sahaja Yoga Meditation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8007769/ )  Barrós-Loscertales and colleagues recruited healthy adult non-meditators and long-term practitioners of Sahaja Yoga Meditation. They were measured for impulsiveness and cognitive control and response inhibition with a go/no-go task in which the participants had to respond to a target stimulus and withhold responding to another stimulus and a Simon task in which they had to respond to a target stimulus pointing in the same direction as its location and withhold responding to another stimulus pointing in a different direction than its location. The participants also had their brains scanned with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

 

They found that the meditators had increased functional connectivity between the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and decreased functional connectivity between the left insula and mid-cingulate cortex and between the right angular gyrus and precuneus. They also found that the meditators had significantly less response interference and the greater the amount of response interference the lower the functional connectivity between the left insula and the mid-cingulate.

 

The ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex have been found to be involved in attention, cognitive control, and conflict resolution. The increased connectivity suggests that the meditators had higher levels of executive function. The insula, cingulate cortex, angular gyrus, and precuneus are all components of the default mode network that has been shown to be involved with mind wandering and self-referential thinking. The decreased functional connectivity between these areas suggests reductions in these processes.

 

It should be kept in mind that the meditation and non-meditation groups self-selected whether they meditated or not and thus may be systematically different people. So, causation cannot be determined. Nevertheless, these results suggest that the meditators had more active attention and executive control networks and less active mind-wandering networks. These results replicate previous research that demonstrated that contemplative practices like meditation produce improvements in cognition and reductions in mind wandering.  So, the connectivity differences seen in the present study appear to show the neural mechanisms underlying the differences in thought processes.

 

So, meditation changes the brain areas underlying executive function and mind wandering.

 

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

 

Barrós-Loscertales, A., Hernández, S. E., Xiao, Y., González-Mora, J. L., & Rubia, K. (2021). Resting State Functional Connectivity Associated With Sahaja Yoga Meditation. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 15, 614882. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2021.614882

 

Abstract

Neuroscience research has shown that meditation practices have effects on brain structure and function. However, few studies have combined information on the effects on structure and function in the same sample. Long-term daily meditation practice produces repeated activity of specific brain networks over years of practice, which may induce lasting structural and functional connectivity (FC) changes within relevant circuits. The aim of our study was therefore to identify differences in FC during the resting state between 23 Sahaja Yoga Meditation experts and 23 healthy participants without meditation experience. Seed-based FC analysis was performed departing from voxels that had shown structural differences between these same participants. The contrast of connectivity maps yielded that meditators showed increased FC between the left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex but reduced FC between the left insula and the bilateral mid-cingulate as well as between the right angular gyrus and the bilateral precuneus/cuneus cortices. It thus appears that long-term meditation practice increases direct FC between ventral and dorsal frontal regions within brain networks related to attention and cognitive control and decreases FC between regions of these networks and areas of the default mode network.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8007769/