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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.

Keywords

  • Anterior Cingulated Cortex
  • Default Mode Network
  • Mirror Neuron
  • Mindfulness Training
  • Mindfulness Meditation

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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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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Correspondence to Tobias Esch M.D. .

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Esch, T. (2014). The Neurobiology of Meditation and Mindfulness. In: Schmidt, S., Walach, H. (eds) Meditation – Neuroscientific Approaches and Philosophical Implications. Studies in Neuroscience, Consciousness and Spirituality, vol 2. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-01634-4_9

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