Functional and structural neurobiological consequences of mindfulness meditation


Mindfulness is a meditative technique that utilizes observation of interoceptive processes e.g., breath monitoring and open observation of thoughts.

Based on these methods employed, it has been postulated that this technique could be useful as a therapeutic intervention for some mental disorders characterized by displaced self or emotional awareness, as well as an inability to maintain focus on cognitive tasks, such as those who suffer from various forms of anxiety or drug addiction [1-4].

While a few meta-analytic studies have investigated the neural impact of various types of meditation [3,5,6], none have specifically compared and contrasted the functional and structural impacts of mindfulness techniques. Here, we sought to elucidate the functional and structural neurobiological impact of mindfulness manipulations through meta-analytic investigation using the Activation Likelihood Estimation (ALE) framework [7-9]. We hypothesized that mindfulness manipulations would enhance functional activation and gray matter volume in areas associated with attention monitoring (e.g., frontal cortex) and interoceptive processes (e.g., insula).