Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2016 Jun;65:208-28. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.03.021. Epub 2016 Mar 28.

Functional neuroanatomy of meditation: A review and meta-analysis of 78 functional neuroimaging investigations.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, 2136 West Mall, Vancouver, B.C., V6T 1Z4, Canada. Electronic address: kfox@psych.ubc.ca.
2
Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, 2136 West Mall, Vancouver, B.C., V6T 1Z4, Canada.
3
Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education, University of British Columbia, 2125 Main Mall, Vancouver, B.C., V6T 1Z4, Canada.
4
Integrated Program in Neuroscience, McGill University, 3775 University St., Montreal, QC, H3A 2B4, Canada.
5
Neuroanatomy and Connectivity Research Group, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Stephanstrasse 1a, Leipzig, 04103, Germany.
6
Institut für Psychologie, Technische Universität Chemnitz, 43 Wilhelm-Raabe Street, Chemnitz, Germany.
7
Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, 2136 West Mall, Vancouver, B.C., V6T 1Z4, Canada; Brain Research Centre, University of British Columbia, 2211 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, B.C., V6T 2B5, Canada.

Abstract

Meditation is a family of mental practices that encompasses a wide array of techniques employing distinctive mental strategies. We systematically reviewed 78 functional neuroimaging (fMRI and PET) studies of meditation, and used activation likelihood estimation to meta-analyze 257 peak foci from 31 experiments involving 527 participants. We found reliably dissociable patterns of brain activation and deactivation for four common styles of meditation (focused attention, mantra recitation, open monitoring, and compassion/loving-kindness), and suggestive differences for three others (visualization, sense-withdrawal, and non-dual awareness practices). Overall, dissociable activation patterns are congruent with the psychological and behavioral aims of each practice. Some brain areas are recruited consistently across multiple techniques-including insula, pre/supplementary motor cortices, dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, and frontopolar cortex-but convergence is the exception rather than the rule. A preliminary effect-size meta-analysis found medium effects for both activations (d=0.59) and deactivations (d=-0.74), suggesting potential practical significance. Our meta-analysis supports the neurophysiological dissociability of meditation practices, but also raises many methodological concerns and suggests avenues for future research.

KEYWORDS:

Activation likelihood estimation; Focused attention; Functional magnetic resonance imaging; Meditation; Meta-analysis; Open monitoring

PMID:
27032724
DOI:
10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.03.021
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center