The Neurobiology of Meditation and Mindfulness

Part of the Studies in Neuroscience, Consciousness and Spirituality book series (SNCS, volume 2)

Abstract

Neurobiological effects of meditation and mindfulness can be detected in the brain as functional and also structural alterations in grey and white matter, particularly in areas related to attention and memory, interoception and sensory processing, or self- and auto-regulation (including control of stress and emotions). On the molecular level, dopamine and melatonin are found to increase, serotonin activity is modulated, and cortisol as well as norepinephrine have been proven to decrease. These findings are reflected in functional and structural changes documented by imaging techniques such as fMRI or EEG. They may be relevant for medicine and health care, especially with reference to therapeutic strategies for behavior change and life-style modification, or in association with stress regulation and the treatment of addiction. Neuronal mechanisms of mindfulness can be divided into four areas: attention regulation, body awareness, emotion regulation and self-perception.

Abbreviations

ACC

Anterior cingulated cortex

BDNF

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor

E

Epinephrine

EEG

Electroencephalogram

fMRI

Functional magnetic resonance imaging

NE

Norepinephrine

PCC

Posterior cingulated cortex

PFC

Prefrontal cortex

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Integrative Health PromotionHealthy University, Coburg University of Applied SciencesCoburgGermany
  2. 2.Neuroscience Research InstituteState University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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