-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- A new study finds that
people skilled at meditation seem able to turn off areas of the
brain associated with daydreaming and psychiatric disorders such as
autism and schizophrenia.
Learning more about how meditation works could help advance
research into a number of diseases, according to lead author Dr.
Judson Brewer, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale
He and his colleagues used functional MRI to assess brain
activity in experienced and novice meditators as they performed
three different meditation techniques.
Regardless of the type of meditation, skilled meditators had
decreased activity in the brain's default mode network, which has
been linked to attention lapses and disorders such as anxiety,
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and the buildup of beta
amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease.
The researchers also found that when the default mode network
(which consists of the medial prefrontal and posterior cingulate
cortex) was active, brain regions associated with self-monitoring
and cognitive control were also activated in experienced
meditators, but not novices.
This suggests that skilled meditators constantly monitor and
suppress the emergence of "me" thoughts and mind wandering. If they
become too strong, these two states of mind are associated with
diseases such as autism and schizophrenia.
The experienced meditators were able to co-activate the two
brain regions both during meditation and while resting, which
suggests they have developed a "new" default mode that's more
present-centered and less self-centered, the researchers said.
"Meditation's ability to help people stay in the moment has been part of philosophical and contemplative practices for thousands of years," Brewer said in a Yale news release. "Conversely, the hallmark of many forms of mental illness is a preoccupation with one's own thoughts, a condition meditation seems to affect. This gives us some nice cues as to the neural mechanisms of how it might be working clinically."
The study appears Nov. 21 in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative
Medicine has more about
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.