The Neuroscience of Mindfulness: How Mindfulness Alters the Brain and Facilitates Emotion Regulation

Abstract

Here we present a survey of the current state of the neuroscience of mindfulness, integrating it into a theoretical framework of emotion regulation and linking research to clinical practice. Findings from the neuroscience of emotion regulation are reviewed, implicating activation in the anterior cingulate cortex, insular cortex, and prefrontal cortex, and deactivation of the amygdala. We then review the nascent literature on the neuroscience of mindfulness, which suggests that similar areas are involved in mindfulness processing. People high in dispositional mindfulness display greater activity in the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and insular cortex and lesser activity in the amygdala than those low in dispositional mindfulness when engaging in various emotionally salient tasks. Similarly, practitioners engaging in intentional mindfulness appear to demonstrate both functional and structural differences from controls in this emotion regulation network, which correlate with behavioral differences in areas ranging from attentional abilities to psychological well-being. We theorize how the neurologic correlates of mindfulness might support the psychologically healthy mindfulness skills of present-moment focus and detachment from self-referential processing. Finally, we address the limitations of the state of this emerging field and suggest areas for future research. Notably, we illustrate a confound in the literature—that research designs rarely disambiguate intentional mindfulness practice from a more intrinsic, dispositional, mindfulness—and propose a terminological framework to rectify this confound in the field.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Abbott, R. A., Whear, R., Rodgers, L. R., Bethel, A., Coon, J. T., Kuyken, W., et al. (2014). Effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness based cognitive therapy in vascular diseases: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 76, 341–351. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2014.02.012.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Ahir, D. C. (Ed.). (1999). Vipassana: a universal Buddhist meditation technique. New Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Alba-Ferrara, L. M., & de Erausquin, G. A. (2013). What does anisotropy measure? Insights from increased and decreased anisotropy in selective fiber tracts in schizophrenia. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 7, 1–5. doi:10.3389/fnint.2013.00009.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Allman, J., Hakeem, A., Erwin, J., Nimchinsky, E., & Hof, P. (2001). The anterior cingulate cortex: the evolution of an interface between emotion and cognition. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 935, 107–117. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2001.tb03476.x.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Baer, R. A., Smith, G. T., Hopkins, J., Krietemeyer, J., & Toney, L. (2006). Using self-report assessment methods to explore facets of mindfulness. Assessment, 13, 27–45. doi:10.1177/1073191105283504.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Barlow, D. H. (2002). Anxiety and its disorders: The nature and treatment of anxiety and panic (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Barlow, D. H., Farchione, T. J., Fairholme, C. P., Ellard, K. K., Boisseau, C. L., Allen, L. B., & Ehrenreich-May, J. (2011). The unified protocol for transdiagnostic treatment of emotional disorders: therapist guide. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Berkovich-Ohana, A., Glicksohn, J., & Goldstein, A. (2012). Mindfulness-induced changes in gamma band activity—implications for default mode network, self-reference and attention. Clinical Neurophysiology, 123, 700–710. doi:10.1016/j.clinph.2011.07.048.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Bernstein, A., Hadash, Y., Lichtash, Y., Tanay, G., Shepherd, K., & Fresco, D. M. (2015). Decentering and related constructs: a critical review and metacognitive process model. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10, 599–617. doi:10.1177/1745691615594577.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Bishop, S. R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S., Carlson, L., Anderson, N. D., Carmody, J., et al. (2004). Mindfulness: a proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11, 230–241. doi:10.1093/clipsy/bph077.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Bodhi, B. (2003). A comprehensive manual of Abhidhamma. Kandy: Pariyatti Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Boorman, E. D., O’Shea, J., Sebastian, C., Rushworth, M. F. S., & Johansen-Berg, H. (2007). Individual differences in white-matter microstructure reflect variation in functional connectivity during choice. Current Biology, 17, 1426–1431. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2007.07.040.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Bostanov, V., Keune, P. M., Kotchoubey, B., & Hautzinger, M. (2012). Event-related brain potentials reflect increased concentration ability after mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression: a randomized clinical trial. Psychiatry Research, 199, 174–180. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2012.05.031.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Brefczynski-Lewis, J. A., Lutz, A., Shaefer, H. S., & Levinson, D. B. (2007). Neural correlates of attentional expertise in long-term meditation practitioners. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 104, 11483–11488. doi:10.1073/pnas.0606552104.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Brewer, J. A., Worhunsky, P. D., Gray, J. R., Tang, Y. Y., Weber, J., & Kober, H. (2011). Meditation experience is associated with differences in default mode network activity and connectivity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 108, 20254–20259. doi:10.1073/pnas.1112029108.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 822–848. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.84.4.822.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Brown, K. W., Goodman, R. J., & Inzlicht, M. (2013). Dispositional mindfulness and the attenuation of neural responses to emotional stimuli. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 8, 93–99. doi:10.1093/scan/nss004.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Button, K. S., Ioannidis, J. P. A., Mokrysz, C., Nosek, B. A., Flint, J., Robinson, E. S. J., & Munafo, M. R. (2013). Power failure: why small sample size undermines the reliability of neuroscience. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 14, 365–376. doi:10.1038/nrn3475.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Chambers, R., Gullone, E., & Allen, N. B. (2009). Mindful emotion regulation: an integrative review. Clinical Psychology Review, 29, 560–572. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2009.06.005.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Chiesa, A. (2014). Are mindfulness-based interventions effective for substance use disorders? A systematic review of the evidence. Substance Use & Misuse, 49, 492–512. doi:10.3109/10826084.2013.770027.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Chiesa, A., Calati, R., & Serretti, A. (2011). Does mindfulness training improve cognitive abilities? A systematic review of neuropsychological findings. Clinical Psychology Review, 31, 449–464. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2010.11.003.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Chiesa, A., Serretti, A., & Jakobsen, J. C. (2013). Mindfulness: top-down or bottom-up emotion regulation? Clinical Psychology Review, 33, 82–96. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2012.10.006.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Craig, A. D. (2003). Interoception: the sense of the physical condition of the body. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 13, 500–505. doi:10.1016/S0959-4388(03)00090-4.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Creswell, J. D., Way, B. M., Eisenberger, N. I., & Lieberman, M. D. (2007). Neural correlates of dispositional mindfulness during affect labeling. Psychosomatic Medicine, 69, 560–565. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.06.001.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Cuthbert, B. N., Schupp, H. T., Bradlet, M. M., Birbaumer, N., & Lang, P. J. (2000). Brain potentials in affective picture processing: covariation with autonomic arousal and affective report. Biological Psychology, 52, 95–111. doi:10.1016/S0301-0511(99)00044-7.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Darwin, C. (1872). The expression of the emotions in man and animals. London: John Murray.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  28. Davidson, R. J. (1998). Affective style and affective disorders: perspectives from affective neuroscience. Cognition and Emotion, 12, 307–330. doi:10.1080/026999398379628.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Dehaene, S., Posner, M. I., & Tucker, D. M. (1994). Localization of a neural system for error detection and compensation. Psychological Science, 5, 303–305. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.1994.tb00630.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Dickenson, J., Berkman, E. T., Arch, J., & Lieberman, M. D. (2013). Neural correlates of focused attention during a brief mindfulness induction. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 8, 40–47. doi:10.1093/scan/nss030.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Diekhof, E. K., Geier, K., Falkai, P., & Gruber, O. (2011). Fear is only as deep as the mind allows: a coordinate-based meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies on the regulation of negative affect. NeuroImage, 58, 275–285. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.05.073.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Farb, N. A. S., Segal, Z. V., Mayberg, H., Bean, J., McKeon, D., Fatima, Z., & Anderson, A. K. (2007). Attending to the present: mindfulness meditation reveals distinct neural modes of self-reference. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 2, 313–322. doi:10.1093/scan/nsm030.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Farb, N. A. S., Anderson, A. K., Mayberg, H., Bean, J., McKeon, D., & Segal, Z. V. (2010). Minding one’s emotions: mindfulness training alters the neural expression of sadness. Emotion, 10, 25–33. doi:10.1037/a0017151.supp.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Farb, N. A. S., Segal, Z. V., & Anderson, A. K. (2013). Mindfulness meditation training alters cortical representations of interoceptive attention. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 8, 15–26. doi:10.1093/scan/nss066.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Fields, D. (2008). White matter in learning, cognition and psychiatric disorders. Trends in Neuroscience, 31, 361–370. doi:10.1016/j.tins.2008.04.001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Fox, K. C. R., Nijeboer, S., Dixon, M. L., Floman, J. L., Ellamil, M., Rumak, S. P., et al. (2014). Is meditation associated with altered brain structure? A systematic review and meta-analysis of morphometric neuroimaging in meditation practitioners. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 43, 48–73. doi:10.1016/j.neurobiorev.2014.03.016.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Fox, K. C. R., Dixon, M. L., Nijeboer, S., Girn, M., Floman, J. L., Lifshitz, M., et al. (2016). Functional neuroanatomy of meditation: a review and meta-analysis of 78 functional neuroimaging investigations. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 65, 208–228. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.03.021.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Froeliger, B. E., Garland, E. L., Modlin, L. A., & McClernon, F. J. (2012). Neurocognitive correlates of the effects of yoga meditation practice on emotion and cognition: a pilot study. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 6, e48. doi:10.3389/fnint.2012.00048.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Gazzaniga, M. S., Ivry, R. B., & Mangun, G. R. (2013). Cognitive neuroscience: the biology of the mind. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Gethin, R. M. L. (2011). On some definitions of mindfulness. Contemporary Buddhism, 12, 263–297. doi:10.1080/14639947.2011.564843.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Ghashghaei, H. T., & Barbas, H. (2002). Pathways for emotion: interactions of prefrontal and anterior temporal pathways in the amygdala of the rhesus monkey. Neuroscience, 115, 1261–1279. doi:10.1016/S0306-4522(02)00446-3.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Ghashghaei, H. T., Hilgetag, C. C., & Barbas, H. (2007). Sequence of information processing for emotions based on the anatomic dialogue between prefrontal cortex and amygdala. NeuroImage, 34, 905–923. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2006.09.046.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Goldin, P. R., Manber, T., Hakimi, S., Canli, T., & Gross, J. J. (2009). Neural bases of social anxiety disorder: emotional reactivity and cognitive regulation during social and physical threat. Archives of General Psychiatry, 66, 170–180. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2008.525.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Goldin, P. R., Ziv, M., Jazaieri, H., Hahn, K., & Gross, J. J. (2013). MBSR vs aerobic exercise in social anxiety: fMRI of emotion regulation of negative self-beliefs. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 8, 65–72. doi:10.1093/scan/nss054.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Goto, Y., Yang, C. R., & Otani, S. (2010). Functional and dysfunctional synaptic plasticity in prefrontal cortex: roles in psychiatric disorders. Biological Psychiatry, 67, 199–207. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2009.08.026.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Grant, J. A., Courtemanche, J., Duerden, E. G., Duncan, G. H., & Rainville, P. (2010). Cortical thickness and pain sensitivity in Zen meditators. Emotion, 10, 43–53. doi:10.1037/a0018334.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Gross, J. J. (1998). The emerging field of emotion regulation: an integrative review. Review of General Psychology, 2, 271–299. doi:10.1037/1089-2680.2.3.271.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Gross, J. J. (2008). Emotion regulation. New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Gross, J. J., & Levenson, R. W. (1997). Hiding feelings: the acute effects of inhibiting negative and positive emotion. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 106, 95–103. doi:10.1037/0021-843X.106.1.95.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Gross, J. J., & Thompson, R. A. (2007). Emotion regulation: conceptual foundations. New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Guise, K., Kelly, K., Romanowski, J., Vogeley, K., Platek, S. M., Murray, E., & Keenan, J. P. (2007). The anatomical and evolutionary relationship between self-awareness and theory of mind. Human Nature, 18, 132–142. doi:10.1007/s12110-007-9009-x.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Hariri, A. R., Mattay, V. S., Tessitore, A., Fera, F., & Weinberger, D. R. (2003). Neocortical modulation of the amygdala response to fearful stimuli. Biological Psychiatry, 53, 494–501. doi:10.1016/S0006-3223(02)01786-9.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Hasenkamp, W., & Basalou, L. W. (2012). Effects of meditation experience on functional connectivity of distributed brain networks. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 6, 38. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2012.00038.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Hayes, S. C., Strosahl, K. D., & Wilson, K. G. (2016). Acceptance and commitment therapy: the process and practice of mindful change (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford.

    Google Scholar 

  55. Hill, C. L., & Updegraff, J. A. (2012). Mindfulness and its relationship to emotional regulation. Emotion, 12, 81–90. doi:10.1037/a0026355.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Hofmann, S. G., Sawyer, A. T., Witt, A. A., & Oh, D. (2010). The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: a meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78, 169–183. doi:10.1037/a0018555.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Hőlzel, B. K., Carmody, J., Vangel, M., Congleton, C., Yerramsetti, S. M., Gard, T., & Lazar, S. W. (2011a). Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 191, 36–43. doi:10.1016/j.psychresns.2010.08.006.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Hőlzel, B. K., Lazar, S. W., Gard, T., Schuman-Oliver, Z., Vago, D. R., & Ott, U. (2011b). How does mindfulness meditation work? Proposing mechanisms of action from a conceptual and neural perspective. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6, 537–559. doi:10.1177/1745691611419671.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Jensen, C. G., Vangkilde, S., Frokjaer, V., & Hasselbalch, S. G. (2012). Mindfulness training affects attention—or is it attentional effort? Journal of Experimental Psychology, 141, 106–123. doi:10.1037/a0024931.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Kabat-Zinn, J. (1982). An outpatient program in behavioral medicine for chronic pain patients based on the practice of mindfulness meditation: theoretical considerations and preliminary results. General Hospital Psychiatry, 4, 33–47. doi:10.1016/0163-8343(82)90026-3.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living: using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York: Bantam Dell.

    Google Scholar 

  62. Kang, D.-H., Jo, H. J., Jung, W. H., Kim, S. H., Jung, Y.-H., Choi, C.-H., et al. (2013). The effect of meditation on brain structure: cortical thickness mapping and diffusion tensor imaging. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 8, 27–33. doi:10.1093/scan/nss056.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Keng, S.-L., Smoski, M. J., & Robins, C. J. (2011). Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: a review of empirical studies. Clinical Psychology Review, 31, 1041–1056. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2011.04.006.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Kerns, J. G., Cohen, J. D., MacDonald, A. W., Cho, R. Y., Stenger, V. A., & Carter, C. S. (2004). Anterior cingulate conflict monitoring and adjustments in control. Science, 303, 1023–1026. doi:10.1126/science/1089910.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Kerr, C. E., Sacchet, M. D., Lazar, S. W., Moore, C. I., & Jones, S. R. (2013). Mindfulness starts with the body: somatosensory attention and top-down modulation of cortical alpha rhythms in mindfulness meditation. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7, 12. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00012.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Kier, E. L., Staib, L. H., Davis, L. M., & Bronen, R. A. (2004). MR imaging of the temporal stem: anatomic dissection of tractography of the uncinate fasciculus, inferior occipital fasciculus, and Meyer’s loop of the optic radiation. American Journal of Neuroradiology, 25, 677–691. doi:10.3171/JNS/2008/108/4/0775.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  67. Kilpatrick, L. A., Suyenobu, B. Y., Smith, S. R., Bueller, J. A., Goodman, T., Creswell, D., et al. (2011). Impact of mindfulness-based stress reduction training on intrinsic brain connectivity. NeuroImage, 56, 290–298. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.02.034.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  68. King, A. P., Erickson, T. M., Giardino, N. D., Favorite, T., Rauch, S. A., Robinson, E., et al. (2013). A pilot study of group mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) for combat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Depression and Anxiety, 30, 638–645. doi:10.1002/da.22104.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Kumar, R., Nguyen, H. D., Macey, P. M., Woo, M. A., & Harper, R. M. (2012). Regional brain axial and radial diffusivity changes during development. Journal of Neuroscience Research, 90, 346–355. doi:10.1002/jnr.22757.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Lazar, S. W., Kerr, C. E., Wasserman, R. H., Gray, J. R., Greve, D. N., Treadway, M. T., et al. (2005). Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness. Neuroreport, 16, 1893–1897 PMC1361002.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  71. LeDoux, J. E. (1996). The emotional brain: The mysterious underpinnings of emotional life. New York: Simon & Schuster.

    Google Scholar 

  72. Linehan, M. M. (1993). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of borderline personality disorder. New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  73. Luders, E., Toga, A. W., Lepore, N., & Gaser, C. (2009). The underlying anatomical correlates of long-term meditation: larger hippocampal and frontal volumes of gray matter. NeuroImage, 45, 672–678. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.12.061.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Luders, E., Clark, K., Narr, K. L., & Toga, A. W. (2011). Enhanced brain connectivity in long-term meditation practitioners. NeuroImage, 57, 1308–1316. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.05.075.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  75. Luders, E., Phillips, O. R., Clark, K., Kurth, F., Toga, A. W., & Narr, K. (2012). Bridging the hemispheres in meditation: thicker callosal regions and enhanced fractional anisotropy (FA) in long-term practitioners. NeuroImage, 61, 181–187. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.02.026.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Luders, E., Cherbuin, N., & Gaser, C. (2016). Estimating brain age using high-resolution pattern recognition: younger brains in long-term meditation practitioners. NeuroImage, 134, 508–513. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.04.007.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  77. Makris, N., Kennedy, D. N., McInerney, S., Sorensen, A. G., Wang, R., Caviness Jr., V. S., & Pandya, D. N. (2005). Segmentation of subcomponents within the superior longitudinal fascicle in humans: a quantitative, in vivo, DT-MRI study. Cerebral Cortex, 15, 854–869. doi:10.1093/cecor/bhh186.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  78. Mennin, D. S., & Fresco, D. M. (2013). Emotion regulation therapy. In J. J. Gross (Ed.), Handbook of emotion regulation (2nd ed., pp. 469–490). New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  79. Miller, R. (2005). Yoga nidra: the meditative heart of yoga. Boulder: Sounds True.

    Google Scholar 

  80. Modinos, G., Ormel, J., & Aleman, A. (2010). Individual differences in dispositional mindfulness and brain activity involved in reappraisal of emotion. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 5, 369–377. doi:10.1093/scan/nsq006.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  81. Moore, A., & Malinowski, P. (2009). Meditation, mindfulness, and cognitive flexibility. Consciousness and Cognition, 18, 176–186. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2008.12.008.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  82. Moore, A., Gruber, T., Derose, J., & Malinowski, P. (2012). Regular, brief mindfulness meditation practice improves electrophysiological markers of attentional control. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6, 18. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2012.00018.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  83. Morris, J. S., Ohman, A., & Dolan, R. J. (1998). Conscious and unconscious emotional learning in the human amygdala. Nature, 4, 467–470. doi:10.1038/30976.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  84. Murakami, H., Nakao, T., Matsunaga, M., Kasuya, Y., Shinoda, J., Yamada, J., & Ohira, H. (2012). The structure of a mindful brain. PloS One, 7, e46377. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046377.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  85. Neisser, U. (1997). The roots of self-knowledge: perceiving self, it, and thou. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 18, 18–33. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.1997.tb48243.x.

    Google Scholar 

  86. Northoff, G., & Bermpohl, F. (2004). Cortical midline structures and the self. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8, 102–107. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2004.01.004.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  87. Ochsner, K. N., & Gross, J. J. (2005). The cognitive control of emotion. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9, 242–249. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2005.03.010.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  88. Parrott, W. G. (1993). Beyond hedonism: motives for inhibiting good moods and for maintaining bad moods. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  89. Posner, M. I., Walker, J. A., Friedrich, F. J., & Rafal, R. D. (1984). Effects of parietal injury on covert orienting of attention. Journal of Neuroscience, 4, 1863–1874.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  90. Raichle, M. E., MacLeod, A. M., Snyder, A. Z., Powers, W. J., Gusnad, D. A., & Shulman, G. I. (2001). A default mode of brain function. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA, 98, 676–682. doi:10.1073/pnas.98.2.676.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  91. Schmahmann, J. D., Pandya, D. N., Wang, R., Dai, G., D’Arceuil, H. E., de Crespigny, A. J., & Wedeen, V. J. (2007). Association fibre pathways of the brain: parallel observations from diffusion spectrum imaging and autoradiography. Brain, 130, 630–653. doi:10.1093/brain/awl359.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  92. Segal, Z. V., Williams, J. M. G., & Teasdale, J. D. (2012). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  93. Semple, R. J. (2010). Does mindfulness meditation enhance attention? A randomized controlled trial. Mindfulness, 1, 121–130. doi:10.1007/s12671-010-0017-2.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  94. Shackman, A. J., Solomons, T. V., Slagter, H. A., Fox, A. H., Winter, J. J., & Davidson, R. J. (2011). The integration of negative affect, pain, and cognitive control in cingulate cortex. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 12, 154–167. doi:10.1038/nrn2994.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  95. Solomon, R. C. (1976). The passions. New York: Doubleday.

    Google Scholar 

  96. Tang, Y. Y. (2007). Multi-intelligence and unfolding the full potentials of brain. Dalian: Dalian University of Technology Press.

    Google Scholar 

  97. Tang, Y. Y., Ma, Y., Wang, J., Feng, S., Lu, Q., & Posner, M. I. (2007). Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104, 17152–17156. doi:10.1073/pnas.0707678104.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  98. Tang, Y. Y., Ma, Y., Fan, Y., Feng, H., Wang, J., Feng, S., et al. (2009). Central and autonomic nervous system interaction is altered by short term meditation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 106, 8865–8870. doi:10.1073/pnas.0904031106.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  99. Tang, Y. Y., Lu, Q., Geng, X., Stein, E. A., Yang, Y., & Posner, M. I. (2010). Short-term meditation induces white matter changes in the anterior cingulate. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107, 15649–15652. doi:10.1073/pnas.1011043107.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  100. Tang, Y. Y., Lu, Q., Fan, M., Yang, Y., & Posner, M. I. (2012). Mechanisms of white matter changes induced by meditation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 109, 10570–10574. doi:10.1073/pnas.1207817109.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  101. Tang, Y. Y., Hölzel, B. K., & Posner, M. I. (2015). The neuroscience of mindfulness meditation. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 16, 213–225. doi:10.1038/nrn3916.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  102. Tang, Y. Y., Hölzel, B. K., & Posner, M. I. (2016). Traits and states in mindfulness meditation. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 17, 59. doi:10.1038/nrn.2015.7.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  103. Taylor, V. A., Grant, J., Daneault, V., Scavone, G., Breton, E., Roff-Vidal, S., et al. (2011). Impact of mindfulness on the neural responses to emotional pictures in experienced and beginner meditators. NeuroImage, 57, 1524–1533. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.06.001.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  104. Teper, R., & Inzlicht, M. (2013). Meditation, mindfulness and executive control: the importance of emotional acceptance and brain-based performance monitoring. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 8, 85–92. doi:10.1093/scan/nss045.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  105. Treadway, M. T., & Lazar, S. W. (2008). The neurobiology of mindfulness. In F. Didonna (Ed.), Clinical handbook of mindfulness (pp. 45–57). New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  106. Van Den Hurk, P. A. M., Giommi, F., Gielen, S. C., Speckens, A. E. M., & Barendregt, H. P. (2010). Greater efficiency in attentional processing related to mindfulness meditation. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63, 1168–1180. doi:10.1080/17470210903249365.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  107. van der Velden, A. M., & Roepstorff, A. (2015). Neural mechanisms of mindfulness meditation: bridging clinical and neuroscience investigations. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 16, 439.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  108. Wenk-Sormaz, H. (2005). Meditation can reduce habitual responding. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 11, 42–58. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00914.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  109. Werner, K., & Gross, J. J. (2010). Emotion regulation and psychopathology: a conceptual framework. In A. M. Kring & D. M. Sloan (Eds.), Emotion regulation and psychopathology: a transdiagnostic approach to etiology and treatment (pp. 13–37). New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  110. Wheeler, M. S., Arnkoff, D. B., & Glass, C. R. (2016). What is being studied as mindfulness meditation? Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 17, 59. doi:10.1038/nrn.2015.6.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  111. Whitfield-Gabrieli, S., & Ford, J. M. (2012). Default mode network activity and connectivity in psychopathology. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 8, 49–76. doi:10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-032511-143049.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  112. Zaki, J., Davis, J. I., & Ochsner, K. N. (2012). Overlapping activity in anterior insula during interoception and emotional experience. NeuroImage, 62, 493–499. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.05.012.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  113. Zeidan, F., Johnson, S. L., Diamond, B. J., David, Z., & Goolkasian, P. (2010). Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: evidence of brief mental training. Consciousness and Cognition, 19, 597–605. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2010.03.014.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  114. Zeidan, F., Martucci, K. T., Kraft, R. A., McHaffie, J. G., & Cognhill, R. C. (2014). Neural correlates of mindfulness meditation-related anxiety relief. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 9, 751–759. doi:10.1093/scan/nst041.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank Dr. Peter Rudebeck for his constructive feedback on the sections of this manuscript relating to the neuroscience of emotion regulation.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Megan S. Wheeler.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Funding

This study was not supported by grant funding.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Wheeler, M.S., Arnkoff, D.B. & Glass, C.R. The Neuroscience of Mindfulness: How Mindfulness Alters the Brain and Facilitates Emotion Regulation. Mindfulness 8, 1471–1487 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0742-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Emotion regulation
  • Mindfulness
  • Neuroscience