Sunday, November 27, 2011

Meditation improves Default Mode Processing

From the abstract of Meditation experience is associated with differences in default mode network activity and connectivity, "we found that the main nodes of the default-mode network (medial prefrontal and posterior cingulate cortices) were relatively deactivated in experienced meditators across all meditation types" and from the Behavioral Medicine Report, a good write up including "the meditators did this both during meditation, and also when just resting — not being told to do anything in particular. This may indicate that meditators have developed a “new” default mode in which there is more present-centered awareness, and less “self”-centered, say the researchers."

This was research from Judson Brewer, who has been doing fMRI scans on advanced meditators I mentioned in Path vs. Non-Path and Meditating in a Big Magnetic Tube.

The default mode locations of medial prefrontal and posterior cingulate correspond roughly to Fz (maybe Fpz) and Pz.  Douglas Dailey recommends doing alpha-theta training at these locations, and has a number of reasons for doing so laid out in his FAQ for his alpha-theta design.  My personal experience, sample of one, is that rewarding frontal theta makes it very difficult to stay present, but your mileage may vary.

EDIT:  Nice critique of this paper in "A brave new default mode in meditation practitioners- or just confused controls?"


  1. Douglas Dailey recommends increasing alpha-theta synchrony between the anterior (Fz) and posterior (Pz) hubs of the default mode network. He has a very specific method for doing this, and has developed screens for this very purpose. If you simply increased frontal theta without rewarding synchrony at Pz, this would not have been in line with what he is describing.

  2. I think we're very much at the stone knives and bearskins stage of understanding this stuff. The default mode network is a very new idea, and these are hypotheses. And FWIW, I had alpha-theta Fz-Pz synchrony in the design, and I will say again, sample of one.

    I think there is a tremendous amount of superstitious behavior going on in NFB, and people seem to get (or claim) results with just about anything. As one old clinician put it, "give me any two sites and any two frequencies, and I'll get results."