Meditation – Neuroscientific Approaches and Philosophical Implications

Volume 2 of the series Studies in Neuroscience, Consciousness and Spirituality pp 153-173


The Neurobiology of Meditation and Mindfulness

  • Tobias EschAffiliated withDivision of Integrative Health Promotion, Healthy University, Coburg University of Applied SciencesNeuroscience Research Institute, State University of New York Email author 

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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.