Sunday, May 27, 2012

The neural substrates of mindfulness: An fMRI investigation

The neural substrates of mindfulness: An fMRI investigation

from the paper:
“Mindfulness” is a capacity for heightened present-moment awareness that we all possess to a greater or lesser extent. Enhancing this capacity through training has been shown to alleviate stress and promote physical and mental well-being.

As a consequence, interest in mindfulness is growing and so is the need to better understand it. This study employed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify the brain regions involved in state mindfulness and to shed light on its mechanisms of action. Significant signal decreases were observed during mindfulness meditation in midline cortical structures associated with interoception.  These findings lend support to the theory that mindfulness achieves its positive outcomes through a process of disidentification.

By refraining from subjective appraisal, as evident here in the form of decreased activity in associated brain regions, mindfulness may indeed afford a less subjective experience of each passing moment, consistent with practitioner reports and the outcomes associated with mindfulness practices described by Eastern philosophers as bare attention. Based on the findings of this study, state mindfulness is proposed to be a unique form of higher-order information processing in which subjective assessment of transient events is silenced in favor of maintaining objectivity and gaining insight into the nature of emotion.

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