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Neural Plast. 2014;2014:679509. doi: 10.1155/2014/679509. Epub 2014 Jun 17.

Spinal fMRI of interoceptive attention/awareness in experts and novices.

Author information

1
Department of Functional Brain Imaging, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer, Tohoku University, Seiryo-machi 4-1, Aoba-ku, Sendai 980-8575, Japan.
2
Department of Functional Brain Imaging, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer, Tohoku University, Seiryo-machi 4-1, Aoba-ku, Sendai 980-8575, Japan ; International Research Institute of Disaster Science, Tohoku University, Sendai 980-8575, Japan.
3
Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization, Tohoku University, Sendai 980-8575, Japan.
4
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Graduate School of Medicine, Tohoku University, Sendai 980-8575, Japan.
5
Institute of Nishino Breathing Method, Tokyo 150-0046, Japan.
6
Department of Respiratory Medicine, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, Sendai 980-8574, Japan ; South Miyagi Medical Center, Miyagi, Shibata 989-1253, Japan.

Abstract

Many disciplines/traditions that promote interoceptive (inner sensation of body parts) attention/awareness (IAA) train practitioners to both attend to and be aware of interoceptive sensory experiences in body parts. The effect of such practices has been investigated in previous imaging studies but limited to cerebral neural activity. Here, for the first time, we studied the impact of these practices on the spinal neural activity of experts and novices. We also attempted to clarify the effect of constant and deep breathing, a paradigm utilized in concentration practices to avoid mind wandering, on IAA-related spinal neural activity. Subjects performed IAA tasks with and without a deep and constant breathing pattern in two sessions. Results showed that neural activity in the spinal segment innervating the attended-to body area increased in experts (P = 0.04) when they performed IAA and that this increase was significantly larger for experts versus novices in each of the sessions (P = 0.024). The significant effects of IAA and expertise on spinal neural activity are consistent with and elaborate on previous reports showing similar effects on cerebral neural activity. As the spinal cord directly innervates body parts, the results might indicate that IAA has an instantaneous (possibly beneficial) effect on the physical body after extended training.

PMID:
25031872
PMCID:
PMC4086226
DOI:
10.1155/2014/679509
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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