Student project

Impact of meditation on the default network, a functional magnetic resonance imaging study

Meditation is a practice that has been used for hundreds of years by people desiring to alter their state of consciousness. Recent brain imaging studies have shown functional correlates of meditation on brain function. In this study, we aimed to examine the effects of meditation practice on resting state, the spontaneous non-task-related activation of the brain. Very-high-field (7T) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to image resting state activation in groups of meditators and controls. Data were analyzed to determine the short-term (directly induced by meditative state) and the long-term (constantly present as baseline) effects of meditation. Our results indicate that short-term effects are localized within the brain's default network, i.e. in intraparietal lobes, hippocampus, posterior cingulate and precuneus. Long-term effects were observed in the precuneus and the motor cortex. Our data point to a meditation-induced brain plasticity evidenced by a stronger connectivity within the default network in meditators compared to controls, and suggest that mental training may facilitate the retrieval and the integration of relevant cognitive processing


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