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Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2013 Jan;8(1):27-33. doi: 10.1093/scan/nss056. Epub 2012 May 7.

The effect of meditation on brain structure: cortical thickness mapping and diffusion tensor imaging.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul 110-744, Republic of Korea.

Abstract

A convergent line of neuroscientific evidence suggests that meditation alters the functional and structural plasticity of distributed neural processes underlying attention and emotion. The purpose of this study was to examine the brain structural differences between a well-matched sample of long-term meditators and controls. We employed whole-brain cortical thickness analysis based on magnetic resonance imaging, and diffusion tensor imaging to quantify white matter integrity in the brains of 46 experienced meditators compared with 46 matched meditation-naïve volunteers. Meditators, compared with controls, showed significantly greater cortical thickness in the anterior regions of the brain, located in frontal and temporal areas, including the medial prefrontal cortex, superior frontal cortex, temporal pole and the middle and interior temporal cortices. Significantly thinner cortical thickness was found in the posterior regions of the brain, located in the parietal and occipital areas, including the postcentral cortex, inferior parietal cortex, middle occipital cortex and posterior cingulate cortex. Moreover, in the region adjacent to the medial prefrontal cortex, both higher fractional anisotropy values and greater cortical thickness were observed. Our findings suggest that long-term meditators have structural differences in both gray and white matter.

PMID:
22569185
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3541490
Free PMC Article
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