Tim Brunson DCH

Welcome to The International Hypnosis Research Institute Web site. Our intention is to support and promote the further worldwide integration of comprehensive evidence-based research and clinical hypnotherapy with mainstream mental health, medicine, and coaching. We do so by disseminating, supporting, and conducting research, providing professional level education, advocating increased level of practitioner competency, and supporting the viability and success of clinical practitioners. Although currently over 80% of our membership is comprised of mental health practitioners, we fully recognize the role, support, involvement, and needs of those in the medical and coaching fields. This site is not intended as a source of medical or psychological advice. -- Tim Brunson, PhD

Tibetan Buddhist Meditation System



by Tim Brunson, PhD

The Tibetan Buddhist meditation system has been used extensively as a subject of scientific study by Benson (2000), Newberg (2001), and others. Like all major meditation systems, there are essentially two components. The first is called shamatha or calm-abiding. This is when the meditator is expected to be able to quite the mind for increasingly longer periods of time. As the ACC is constantly transitioning between thoughts and ideas, the challenge is for the meditator to gradually slow down the thought-switching process. When a meditator detects an intervening thought, the goal is to gently return to the subject of the meditation, such as the breath.

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Fuzzy Synchronization Likelihood-wavelet methodology for diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.



This paper presents a methodology for investigation of functional connectivity in patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using Fuzzy Synchronization Likelihood (Fuzzy SL). Fuzzy SLs between and within brain regions are calculated in all EEG sub-bands produced by the wavelet decomposition as well as in the full-band EEG. Then, discriminative Fuzzy SLs between and within different regions and different EEG sub-bands or full-band EEG for distinguishing autistic children from healthy control children are determined based on Analysis of Variation (ANOVA). Finally, the selected features are used as input to an Enhanced Probabilistic Neural Network classifier to make an accurate diagnosis of ASD based on the detected differences in the regional functional connectivity of autistic and healthy EEGs. The methodology is validated using EEG data obtained from 9 autistic and 9 healthy children. The ANOVA test showed high ability of the regional Fuzzy SLs in low frequency bands, delta and theta, as well as alpha band for discriminating the two groups. A high classification accuracy of 95.5% was achieved for distinguishing autistic EEGs from healthy EEGs. It is concluded that the methodology presented in this paper can be used as an effective tool for diagnosis of the autism. Further, the regional Fuzzy SLs discovered in this research can be used as reliable markers in neurofeedback treatments to improve neuronal plasticity and connectivity in autistic patients.

J Neurosci Methods. 2012 Nov 15;211(2):203-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2012.08.020. Epub 2012 Aug 28. Ahmadlou M, Adeli H, Adeli A. Dynamic Brain Research Office, 30 Khoddami, Tehran, Iran.

A comparison of mindfulness-based stress reduction and an active control...



Full title: A comparison of mindfulness-based stress reduction and an active control in modulation of neurogenic inflammation.

Psychological stress is a major provocative factor of symptoms in chronic inflammatory conditions. In recent years, interest in addressing stress responsivity through meditation training in health-related domains has increased astoundingly, despite a paucity of evidence that reported benefits are specific to meditation practice. We designed the present study to rigorously compare an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) intervention to a well-matched active control intervention, the Health Enhancement Program (HEP) in ability to reduce psychological stress and experimentally-induced inflammation. The Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) was used to induce psychological stress and inflammation was produced using topical application of capsaicin cream to forearm skin. Immune and endocrine measures of inflammation and stress were collected both before and after MBSR training. Results show those randomized to MBSR and HEP training had comparable post-training stress-evoked cortisol responses, as well as equivalent reductions in self-reported psychological distress and physical symptoms. However, MBSR training resulted in a significantly smaller post-stress inflammatory response compared to HEP, despite equivalent levels of stress hormones. These results suggest behavioral interventions designed to reduce emotional reactivity may be of therapeutic benefit in chronic inflammatory conditions. Moreover, mindfulness practice, in particular, may be more efficacious in symptom relief than the well-being promoting activities cultivated in the HEP program.

Brain Behav Immun. 2013 Jan;27(1):174-84. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2012.10.013. Epub 2012 Oct 22. Rosenkranz MA, Davidson RJ, Maccoon DG, Sheridan JF, Kalin NH, Lutz A. Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging & Behavior and Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1500 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53705, United States. Electronic address: marosenk@wisc.edu.

Conscious Attention, Meditation, and Bilateral Information Transfer.



Recent findings indicate that conscious attention is related to large-scale information integration of various brain regions, including both hemispheres, that enables integration of parallel distributed modalities of processed information. There is also evidence that the level of information transference related to integration or splitting among brain regions, and between hemispheres, establishes a certain level of efficiency of the information processing. The level of information transference also may have modulatory influences on attentional capacity that are closely linked to the emotional arousal and autonomic response related to a stimulus. These findings suggest a hypothesis that changes in conscious attention, specifically during meditation could be reflected in the autonomic activity as the left-right information transference calculated from bilateral electrodermal activity (EDA). With the aim to compare conscious attention during meditation with other attentional states (resting state, Stroop task, and memory task), we performed bilateral EDA measurement in 7 healthy persons during resting state, Stroop task, neurofeedback memory test, and meditation. The results indicate that the information transference (ie, transinformation) is able to distinguish those attentional states, and that the highest level of the transinformation has been found during attentional processing related to meditation, indicating higher level of connectivity between left and right sides. Calculations other than pointwise transinformation (PTI) performed on EDA records, such as mean skin conductance level or laterality index, were not able to distinguish attentional states. The results suggest that PTI may present an interesting method useful for the assessment of information flow, related to neural functioning, that in the case of meditation may reflect typical integrative changes in the autonomic nervous system related to brain functions and focused attentional processing.

Clin EEG Neurosci. 2012 Nov 19. Bob P, Zimmerman EM, Hamilton EA, Sheftel JG, Bajo SD, Raboch J, Golla M, Konopka LM. Center for Neuropsychiatric Research of Traumatic Stress, Department of Psychiatry, First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic.

Mindfulness-and body-psychotherapy-based group treatment of chronic tinnitus...



Full title: Mindfulness-and body-psychotherapy-based group treatment of chronic tinnitus: a randomized controlled pilot study.

BACKGROUND: Tinnitus, the perception of sound in absence of an external acoustic source, impairs the quality of life in 2% of the population. Since in most cases causal treatment is not possible, the majority of therapeutic attempts aim at developing and strengthening individual coping and habituation strategies. Therapeutic interventions that incorporate training in mindfulness meditation have become increasingly popular in the treatment of stress-related disorders. Here we conducted a randomized, controlled clinical study to investigate the efficacy of a specific mindfulness- and body-psychotherapy based program in patients suffering from chronic tinnitus.

METHODS: Thirty-six patients were enrolled in this pilot study. The treatment was specifically developed for tinnitus patients and is based on mindfulness and body psychotherapy. Treatment was performed as group therapy at two training weekends that were separated by an interval of 7?weeks (eleven hours/weekend) and in four further two-hour sessions (week 2, 9, 18 and 22). Patients were randomized to receive treatment either immediately or after waiting time, which served as a control condition. The primary study outcome was the change in tinnitus complaints as measured by the German Version of the Tinnitus Questionnaire (TQ).

RESULTS: ANOVA testing for the primary outcome showed a significant interaction effect time by group (F?=?7.4; df?=?1,33; p?=?0.010). Post hoc t-tests indicated an amelioration of TQ scores from baseline to week 9 in both groups (intervention group: t?=?6.2; df?=?17; p? CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that this mindfulness- and body-psychotherapy-based approach is feasible in the treatment of tinnitus and merits further evaluation in clinical studies with larger sample sizes. The study is registered with clinicaltrials.gov (NCT01540357).

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012 Nov 28;12(1):235. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-12-235. Kreuzer PM, Goetz M, Holl M, Schecklmann M, Landgrebe M, Staudinger S, Langguth B. Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Regensburg, Universitaetsstrasse 84, Regensburg 93053, Germany. peter.kreuzer@medbo.de.

Argentine tango dance compared to mindfulness meditation and a waiting-list control...



Full title: Argentine tango dance compared to mindfulness meditation and a waiting-list control: a randomised trial for treating depression.

OBJECTIVES: To determine whether tango dancing is as effective as mindfulness meditation in reducing symptoms of psychological stress, anxiety and depression, and in promoting well-being.

DESIGN: This study employed analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) and multiple regression analysis.

PARTICIPANTS: Ninety-seven people with self-declared depression were randomised into tango dance or mindfulness meditation classes, or to control/waiting-list.

SETTING: classes were conducted in a venue suitable for both activities in the metropolitan area of Sydney, Australia.

INTERVENTIONS: Participants completed six-week programmes (1½h/week of tango or meditation). The outcome measures were assessed at pre-test and post-test.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale; The Self Esteem Scale; Satisfaction with Life Scale, and Mindful Attention Awareness Scale.

RESULTS: Sixty-six participants completed the program and were included in the statistical analysis. Depression levels were significantly reduced in the tango (effect size d=0.50, p=.010), and meditation groups (effect size d=0.54, p=.025), relative to waiting-list controls. Stress levels were significantly reduced only in the tango group (effect size d=0.45, p=.022). Attending tango classes was a significant predictor for the increased levels of mindfulness R(2)=.10, adjusted R(2)=.07, F (2,59)=3.42, p=.039.

CONCLUSION: Mindfulness-meditation and tango dance could be effective complementary adjuncts for the treatment of depression and/or inclusion in stress management programmes. Subsequent trials are called to explore the therapeutic mechanisms involved.

Complement Ther Med. 2012 Dec;20(6):377-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2012.07.003. Epub 2012 Aug 3. Pinniger R, Brown RF, Thorsteinsson EB, McKinley P. University of New England, Australia. rpinnige@une.edu.au

Self-regulation of brain oscillations as a treatment for aberrant brain connections...



Full title: Self-regulation of brain oscillations as a treatment for aberrant brain connections in children with autism.

Autism is a highly varied developmental disorder typically characterized by deficits in reciprocal social interaction, difficulties with verbal and nonverbal communication, and restricted interests and repetitive behaviors. Although a wide range of behavioral, pharmacological, and alternative medicine strategies have been reported to ameliorate specific symptoms for some individuals, there is at present no cure for the condition. Nonetheless, among the many incompatible observations about aspects of the development, anatomy, and functionality of the autistic brain, it is widely agreed that it is characterized by widespread aberrant connectivity. Such disordered connectivity, be it increased, decreased, or otherwise compromised, may complicate healthy synchronization and communication among and within different neural circuits, thereby producing abnormal processing of sensory inputs necessary for normal social life. It is widely accepted that the innate properties of brain electrical activity produce pacemaker elements and linked networks that oscillate synchronously or asynchronously, likely reflecting a type of functional connectivity. Using phase coherence in multiple frequency EEG bands as a measure of functional connectivity, studies have shown evidence for both global hypoconnectivity and local hyperconnectivity in individuals with ASD. However, the nature of the brain's experience-dependent structural plasticity suggests that these abnormal patterns may be reversed with the proper type of treatment. Indeed, neurofeedback (NF) training, an intervention based on operant conditioning that results in self-regulation of brain electrical oscillations, has shown promise in addressing marked abnormalities in functional and structural connectivity. It is hypothesized that neurofeedback produces positive behavioral changes in ASD children by normalizing the aberrant connections within and between neural circuits. NF exploits the brain's plasticity to normalize aberrant connectivity patterns apparent in the autistic brain. By grounding this training in known anatomical (e.g., mirror neuron system) and functional markers (e.g., mu rhythms) of autism, NF training holds promise to support current treatments for this complex disorder. The proposed hypothesis specifically states that neurofeedback-induced alpha mu (8-12Hz) rhythm suppression or desynchronization, a marker of cortical activation, should induce neuroplastic changes and lead to normalization in relevant mirroring networks that have been associated with higher-order social cognition.

Med Hypotheses. 2012 Dec;79(6):790-8. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2012.08.031. Epub 2012 Sep 20. Pineda JA, Juavinett A, Datko M. Department of Cognitive Science and Group in Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0515, United States. Electronic address: pineda@cogsci.ucsd.edu.

The influence of genetic factors on brain plasticity and recovery after neural injury.



PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The fields of clinical genetics and pharmacogenetics are rapidly expanding. Genetic factors have numerous associations with injury and with treatment effects in the setting of neural plasticity and recovery.

RECENT FINDINGS: Evidence is reviewed that established genetic variants, as well as some more recently described variants, are related to outcome after neural injury and in some cases are useful for predicting clinical course. In many cases, the interaction of genetics with clinical factors such as experience and therapy may be important. As an extension of this, genetic factors have been associated with differential response to a number of forms of therapy, including pharmacological, brain stimulation, psychotherapy, and meditation. Genetic variation might also have a significant effect on plasticity and recovery through key covariates such as depression or stress. A key point is that genetic associations might be most accurately identified when studied in relation to distinct forms of a disorder rather than in relation to broad clinical syndromes.

SUMMARY: Understanding genetic variation gives clinicians a biological signal that could be used to predict who is most likely to recover from neural injury, to choose the optimal treatment for a patient, or to supplement rehabilitation therapy.

Curr Opin Neurol. 2012 Dec;25(6):682-8. doi: 10.1097/WCO.0b013e32835a360a. Pearson-Fuhrhop KM, Burke E, Cramer SC. Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology bDepartment of Neurology, University of California, Irvine, Orange, California, USA.

Outcomes of guided imagery in patients receiving radiation therapy for breast cancer.



Guided imagery is an established intervention in integrative oncology. This study was initiated to evaluate the impact of guided imagery on patients undergoing radiation therapy for breast cancer. Eligible patients receiving guided imagery sessions were monitored via biofeedback before and after each session. Monitored measures included blood pressure, respiration rate, pulse rate, and skin temperature. In addition, the EuroQoL Group's EQ-5D questionnaire was used for subjective assessment and patient feedback was collected at the end of radiation therapy through a satisfaction survey. Measured parameters revealed statistically significant improvement from baseline, with decreases noted in respiration rate and pulse rate as well as systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Skin temperature increased, indicating more peripheral capillary flow secondary to a decrease in the sympathetic response. Overall, 86% of participants described the guided imagery sessions as helpful, and 100% said they would recommend the intervention to others. The results of this study illustrate the positive impact of guided imagery as measured through subjective and objective parameters. Improving the overall care for patients with breast cancer supports the value of incorporating practices of integrative oncology into standard practice.

Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2012 Dec;16(6):617-23. doi: 10.1188/12.CJON.617-623. Serra D, Parris CR, Carper E, Homel P, Fleishman SB, Harrison LB, Chadha M. Continuum Cancer Centers of New York, Beth Israel Medical Center.

A pilot study of yogic meditation for family dementia caregivers with depressive symptoms...



Full title: A pilot study of yogic meditation for family dementia caregivers with depressive symptoms: effects on mental health, cognition, and telomerase activity.

BACKGROUND: This study examined the effects of brief daily yogic meditation on mental health, cognitive functioning, and immune cell telomerase activity in family dementia caregivers with mild depressive symptoms.

METHODS: Thirty-nine family dementia caregivers (mean age 60.3?years old (SD?=?10.2)) were randomized to practicing Kirtan Kriya or listening to relaxation music for 12?min per day for 8?weeks. The severity of depressive symptoms, mental and cognitive functioning were assessed at baseline and follow-up. Telomerase activity in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PMBC) was examined in peripheral PBMC pre-intervention and post-intervention.

RESULTS: The meditation group showed significantly lower levels of depressive symptoms and greater improvement in mental health and cognitive functioning compared with the relaxation group. In the meditation group, 65.2% showed 50% improvement on the Hamilton Depression Rating scale and 52% of the participants showed 50% improvement on the Mental Health Composite Summary score of the Short Form-36 scale compared with 31.2% and 19%, respectively, in the relaxation group (p? CONCLUSION: This pilot study found that brief daily meditation practices by family dementia caregivers can lead to improved mental and cognitive functioning and lower levels of depressive symptoms. This improvement is accompanied by an increase in telomerase activity suggesting improvement in stress-induced cellular aging. These results need to be confirmed in a larger sample. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2013 Jan;28(1):57-65. doi: 10.1002/gps.3790. Epub 2012 Mar 11. Lavretsky H, Epel ES, Siddarth P, Nazarian N, Cyr NS, Khalsa DS, Lin J, Blackburn E, Irwin MR. Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and the Semel Institute for Neuroscience, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Meditation as a potential therapy for autism: a review.



Autism is a chronic neurodevelopmental disorder of unknown cause that affects approximately 1-3 percent of children and four times more boys than girls. Its prevalence is global and its social impact is devastating. In autism, the brain is unable to process sensory information normally. Instead, simple stimuli from the outside world are experienced as overwhelmingly intense and strain the emotional centers of the brain. A stress response to the incoming information is initiated that destabilizes cognitive networks and short-circuits adequate behavioral output. As a result, the child is unable to respond adequately to stimulation and initiate social behavior towards family, friends, and peers. In addition, these children typically face immune-digestive disorders that heighten social fears, anxieties, and internal conflicts. While it is critical to treat the physical symptoms, it is equally vital to offer an evidence-based holistic solution that harmonizes both their emotional and physical well-being as they move from childhood into adult life. Here, we summarize evidence from clinical studies and neuroscience research that suggests that an approach built on yogic principles and meditative tools is worth pursuing. Desired outcomes include relief of clinical symptoms of the disease, greater relaxation, and facilitated expression of feelings and skills, as well as improved family and social quality of life.

Autism Res Treat. 2012;2012:835847. Epub 2012 Jun 4. Sequeira S, Ahmed M. Office of Clinical Research, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, USA.

Evidence and potential mechanisms for mindfulness practices and energy psychology for obesity...



Full title: Evidence and potential mechanisms for mindfulness practices and energy psychology for obesity and binge-eating disorder.

Obesity is a growing epidemic. Chronic stress produces endocrine and immune factors that are contributors to obesity's etiology. These biochemicals also can affect appetite and eating behaviors that can lead to binge-eating disorder. The inadequacies of standard care and the problem of patient noncompliance have inspired a search for alternative treatments. Proposals in the literature have called for combination therapies involving behavioral or new biological therapies. This manuscript suggests that mind-body interventions would be ideal for such combinations. Two mind-body modalities, energy psychology and mindfulness meditation, are reviewed for their potential in treating weight loss, stress, and behavior modification related to binge-eating disorder. Whereas mindfulness meditation and practices show more compelling evidence, energy psychology, in the infancy stages of elucidation, exhibits initially promising outcomes but requires further evidence-based trials.

Explore (NY). 2012 Sep;8(5):271-6. Sojcher R, Gould Fogerite S, Perlman A. Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, School of Health-Related Professions, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, NJ.

Mindfulness training online for stress reduction, a global measure.



According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stress-related chronic diseases are the main source of death in developed countries. During the last decade, e-mental health, telepsychology or telepsychiatry interventions are showing its growing potential due to the gradual global adoption of the internet and mobile phone technologies. A significant number of studies have concluded that mindfulness helps to reduce physical and psychological symptoms of stress related to various health concerns and that it is a psychological skill that can be trained. The purpose of this online research study is to gather the participants' socio-demographics as well as stress and mindfulness data during an online mindfulness training program. Sustained attention and the state of mindfulness experienced in single meditation sessions are also tracked and stored. Correlational analysis yielded to a statistically significant relationship between high scores in stress and low scores in mindfulness facets (p < .001) and between state and trait aspects of mindfulness (p < .01).

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2012;181:143-8. Quintana M, Rivera O. Complutense University of Madrid.

Compassion meditation enhances empathic accuracy and related neural activity.



The ability to accurately infer others' mental states from facial expressions is important for optimal social functioning and is fundamentally impaired in social cognitive disorders such as autism. While pharmacologic interventions have shown promise for enhancing empathic accuracy, little is known about the effects of behavioral interventions on empathic accuracy and related brain activity. This study employed a randomized, controlled and longitudinal design to investigate the effect of a secularized analytical compassion meditation program, cognitive-based compassion training (CBCT), on empathic accuracy. Twenty-one healthy participants received functional MRI scans while completing an empathic accuracy task, the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET), both prior to and after completion of either CBCT or a health discussion control group. Upon completion of the study interventions, participants randomized to CBCT and were significantly more likely than control subjects to have increased scores on the RMET and increased neural activity in the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC). Moreover, changes in dmPFC and IFG activity from baseline to the post-intervention assessment were associated with changes in empathic accuracy. These findings suggest that CBCT may hold promise as a behavioral intervention for enhancing empathic accuracy and the neurobiology supporting it.

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2012 Sep 29. Mascaro JS, Rilling JK, Tenzin Negi L, Raison CL. Department of Psychiatry, University of Arizona College of Medicine, 1501 North Campbell Avenue, PO Box 245017 Tucson, AZ 85724, USA. craison@email.arizona.edu.

Tension Tamer: Delivering Meditation With Objective Heart Rate Acquisition...



Full title: Tension Tamer: Delivering Meditation With Objective Heart Rate Acquisition for Adherence Monitoring Using a Smart Phone Platform.

Abstract Objectives: This brief report demonstrates the proof of concept of the Tension Tamer (TT) smartphone application, which integrates photoplethysmograph capabilities with breathing awareness meditation (BAM), to reduce stress and measure heart rate and adherence. Design: Methods for objectively measuring heart rate and adherence to BAM were developed as part of a future randomized controlled trial. Setting/Location: The study was conducted at Jerry Zucker Middle School of Science and the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston. Subjects: The subjects were three prehypertensive male teachers. Intervention: The method used was smartphone delivered BAM. Outcome measures: Objective measures included heart rate, adherence, and ambulatory blood pressure (BP). Results: Adherence data was successfully collected by the TT application. Increased adherence to TT coincided with increased improvements in ambulatory BP over a 3-month period. Conclusions: TT shows promise as a simple inexpensive program for administering BAM and capturing adherence data in future clinical trials.

J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Sep 11. Gregoski MJ, Vertegel A, Shaporev A, Treiber FA. 1 Center of Economic Excellence Technology Applications Center for Healthful Lifestyles (TACHL), Medical University of South Carolina , Charleston, South Carolina.

Complementary medicine, exercise, meditation, diet, and lifestyle modification...



Full title: Complementary medicine, exercise, meditation, diet, and lifestyle modification for anxiety disorders: a review of current evidence.

Use of complementary medicines and therapies (CAM) and modification of lifestyle factors such as physical activity, exercise, and diet are being increasingly considered as potential therapeutic options for anxiety disorders. The objective of this metareview was to examine evidence across a broad range of CAM and lifestyle interventions in the treatment of anxiety disorders. In early 2012 we conducted a literature search of PubMed, Scopus, CINAHL, Web of Science, PsycInfo, and the Cochrane Library, for key studies, systematic reviews, and metaanalyses in the area. Our paper found that in respect to treatment of generalized anxiety or specific disorders, CAM evidence revealed current support for the herbal medicine Kava. One isolated study shows benefit for naturopathic medicine, whereas acupuncture, yoga, and Tai chi have tentative supportive evidence, which is hampered by overall poor methodology. The breadth of evidence does not support homeopathy for treating anxiety. Strong support exists for lifestyle modifications including adoption of moderate exercise and mindfulness meditation, whereas dietary improvement, avoidance of caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine offer encouraging preliminary data. In conclusion, certain lifestyle modifications and some CAMs may provide a beneficial role in the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:809653. Epub 2012 Aug 27. Sarris J, Moylan S, Camfield DA, Pase MP, Mischoulon D, Berk M, Jacka FN, Schweitzer I. Department of Psychiatry, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia.

Mindfulness in Nature



by Anne Milligan, LCSW

Have you ever taken yourself up on an invitation to take a walk in the woods, pressed your face up against the wind and stretched your body as far and wide as you possibly can, so that it seems to blow through you, and erase all that tension from too much thinking? Have you felt the freedom of a strong and swirly wind blowing your hair all to kingdom come, like Medusa double-daring the world to fence you in with seductive words and concepts? And have you then been opened up to the wonder of the moment, to be fully inspired from deep within?


Click to Enlarge

Over the past few years, the ongoing science and practice of "mindfulness" has yielded a rich cornucopia of insight which I am certain is restructuring "brain maps" for steady growth not just in my brain but in my relationships, responses, and life choices. I suppose there is a reason that so many of our guided imagery/hypnotherapy clients choose nature imagery for relaxation and inner healing. Trees, plants, the free flow of the wind, dirt, seeds, the scent of mother nature "doing her thing" – all of these awaken in us a sense of connection that cannot be broken despite a host of possible negative messages and interpretations which formed our brain circuitry in the first 26 months of life.

Even as I type these words on a clear morning in late October, the sunrise casts a glorious blanket of orange, reds, and greens over the trees in our yard. It is as if every cell and fiber of my being WAKES UP to the display and a song arises in my heart: "Morning has broken, like the first morning." And then, just then in a flash of awareness, I seem to remember from a deeper place of knowing, that I am ALIVE! I know in an instantaneous, free-flow of input from the Wellspring of all life, that every name was written into the Book of Life from the very beginning of time. Opening up that place of existential meaning in the "right brain," I see that we are all participants in the beautiful cycles of graciousness embedded within creation itself. Gratitude wells up, a great sense of joy envelopes the senses, and I know that I am alive and well. All is well. All will be well. All is well. Namaste to all creatures on earth. Peace to you.

For more information visit www.AnneMilligan.com

Motor Consciousness during Intention-Based and Stimulus-Based Actions...



Full title: Motor Consciousness during Intention-Based and Stimulus-Based Actions: Modulating Attention Resources through Mindfulness Meditation.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction meditation (MBSR) may offer optimal performance through heightened attention for increased body consciousness. To test this hypothesis, MBSR effects were assessed on the simple task of lifting an object. A dual task paradigm was included to assess the opposite effect of a limited amount of attention on motor consciousness. In a stimulus-based condition, the subjects' task was to lift an object that was hefted with weights. In an intentional-based condition, subjects were required to lift a light object while imagining that the object was virtually heavier and thus, adjust their grip voluntarily. The degree of motor consciousness was evaluated by calculating correlation factors for each participant between the grip force level used during the lift trial ("lift the object") and that used during its associated reproduce trial ("without lifting, indicate the force you think you used in the previous trial"). Under dual task condition, motor consciousness decreased for intention- and stimulus-based actions, revealing the importance of top-down attention for building the motor representation that guides action planning. For MBSR-experts, heightened attention provided stronger levels of motor consciousness; this was true for both intention and stimulus-based actions. For controls, heightened attention decreased the capacity to reproduce force levels, suggesting that voluntary top-down attention interfered with the automatic bottom-up emergence of body sensations. Our results provide strong arguments for involvement of two types of attention for the emergence of motor consciousness. Bottom-up attention would serve as an amplifier of motor-sensory afferences; top-down attention would help transfer the motor-sensory content from a preconscious to a conscious state of processing. MBSR would be a specific state for which both types of attention are optimally combined to provide experts with total experiences of their body in movement.

Front Psychol. 2012;3:290. Epub 2012 Sep 11. Delevoye-Turrell YN, Bobineau C. URECA Laboratory, Université de Lille 3, Université Lille Nord de France Villeneuve d'Ascq, France.

Altered anterior insula activation during anticipation and experience of painful stimuli...



Full title: Altered anterior insula activation during anticipation and experience of painful stimuli in expert meditators.

Experientially opening oneself to pain rather than avoiding it is said to reduce the mind's tendency toward avoidance or anxiety which can further exacerbate the experience of pain. This is a central feature of mindfulness-based therapies. Little is known about the neural mechanisms of mindfulness on pain. During a meditation practice similar to mindfulness, functional magnetic resonance imaging was used in expert meditators (>10,000h of practice) to dissociate neural activation patterns associated with pain, its anticipation, and habituation. Compared to novices, expert meditators reported equal pain intensity, but less unpleasantness. This difference was associated with enhanced activity in the dorsal anterior insula (aI), and the anterior mid-cingulate (aMCC) the so-called 'salience network', for experts during pain. This enhanced activity during pain was associated with reduced baseline activity before pain in these regions and the amygdala for experts only. The reduced baseline activation in left aI correlated with lifetime meditation experience. This pattern of low baseline activity coupled with high response in aIns and aMCC was associated with enhanced neural habituation in amygdala and pain-related regions before painful stimulation and in the pain-related regions during painful stimulation. These findings suggest that cultivating experiential openness down-regulates anticipatory representation of aversive events, and increases the recruitment of attentional resources during pain, which is associated with faster neural habituation.

Neuroimage. 2012 Sep 19. pii: S1053-8119(12)00940-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.09.030. Lutz A, McFarlin DR, Perlman DM, Salomons TV, Davidson RJ. Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA; Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI, USA. Electronic address: alutz@wisc.edu.

Meditation-related increases in GABA(B) modulated cortical inhibition.



Recent reports suggest meditation practice improves attentional performance and emotional regulation. The process of meditation apparently increases activation in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and stimulates the reticular nucleus of the thalamus, implicating the production and delivery of the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABAergic inhibitory interneurons have a central role in cortical inhibition (CI), modulating cortical excitability and neural plasticity. Changes in CI, after completion of a single meditation session, were investigated and compared to a non-meditating control activity. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a non-invasive method of examining CI, was used to evaluate changes before and after a 60 min meditation session. Seventy right-handed healthy subjects (n = 35 meditators, n = 35 non-meditators) were assessed using TMS related measures of cortical silent period (CSP) and short intra cortical inhibition (SICI), with stimulation of the motor cortex coordinated with EMG recording of peripheral hand muscles. For the meditators, CSP and SICI were measured before and after meditation sessions while age-sex matched healthy control subjects were identically assessed after a non-meditating activity (television watching). The meditators showed a statistically significant increase in CSP after meditation compared to non-meditators after an equivalent period of television watching (P = 0.02) while no significant between-group differences were observed in the SICI. These findings indicate meditation processes are linked to GABAergic cortical inhibition, a mechanism previously implicated in improved cognitive performance and enhanced emotional regulation.

Brain Stimul. 2012 Sep 7. pii: S1935-861X(12)00153-2. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2012.08.005. Guglietti CL, Daskalakis ZJ, Radhu N, Fitzgerald PB, Ritvo P. York University, Department of Kinesiology and Health Science, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Adapting CBT for traumatized refugees and ethnic minority patients...



Full title: Adapting CBT for traumatized refugees and ethnic minority patients: examples from culturally adapted CBT (CA-CBT).

In this article, we illustrate how cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be adapted for the treatment of PTSD among traumatized refugees and ethnic minority populations, providing examples from our treatment, culturally adapted CBT, or CA-CBT. CA-CBT has a unique approach to exposure (typical exposure is poorly tolerated in these groups), emphasizes the treatment of somatic sensations (a particularly salient part of the presentation of PTSD in these groups), and addresses comorbid anxiety disorders and anger. To accomplish these treatment goals, CA-CBT emphasizes emotion exposure and emotion regulation techniques such as meditation and aims to promote emotional and psychological flexibility. We describe 12 key aspects of adapting CA-CBT that make it a culturally sensitive treatment of traumatized refugee and ethnic minority populations. We discuss three models that guide our treatment and that can be used to design culturally sensitive treatments: (a) the panic attack-PTSD model to illustrate the many processes that generate PTSD in these populations, highlighting the role of arousal and somatic symptoms; (b) the arousal triad to demonstrate how somatic symptoms are produced and the importance of targeting comorbid anxiety conditions and psychopathological processes; and (c) the multisystem network (MSN) model of emotional state to reveal how some of our therapeutic techniques (e.g., body-focused techniques: bodily stretching paired with self-statements) bring about psychological flexibility and improvement.

Transcult Psychiatry. 2012 Apr;49(2):340-65. Hinton DE, Rivera EI, Hofmann SG, Barlow DH, Otto MW. Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA. devon_hinton@hms.harvard.edu

Neural correlates of establishing, maintaining, and switching brain states.



Although the study of brain states is an old one in neuroscience, there has been growing interest in brain state specification owing to MRI studies tracing brain connectivity at rest. In this review, we summarize recent research on three relatively well-described brain states: the resting, alert, and meditation states. We explore the neural correlates of maintaining a state or switching between states, and argue that the anterior cingulate cortex and striatum play a critical role in state maintenance, whereas the insula has a major role in switching between states. Brain state may serve as a predictor of performance in a variety of perceptual, memory, and problem solving tasks. Thus, understanding brain states is critical for understanding human performance.

Trends Cogn Sci. 2012 Jun;16(6):330-7. Epub 2012 May 19. Tang YY, Rothbart MK, Posner MI. Texas Tech Neuroimaging Institute and Department of Psychology, Texas Tech University, TX 79409, USA; Department of Psychology, University of Oregon, OR 97403, USA; Institute of Neuroinformatics and Laboratory for Body and Mind, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian 116024, China.

Current perspectives on the use of meditation to reduce blood pressure.



Meditation techniques are increasingly popular practices that may be useful in preventing or reducing elevated blood pressure. We reviewed landmark studies and recent literature concerning the use of meditation for reducing blood pressure in pre-hypertensive and hypertensive individuals. We sought to highlight underlying assumptions, identify strengths and weaknesses of the research, and suggest avenues for further research, reporting of results, and dissemination of findings. Meditation techniques appear to produce small yet meaningful reductions in blood pressure either as monotherapy or in conjunction with traditional pharmacotherapy. Transcendental meditation and mindfulness-based stress reduction may produce clinically significant reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. More randomized clinical trials are necessary before strong recommendations regarding the use of meditation for high BP can be made.

Int J Hypertens. 2012;2012:578397. Epub 2012 Mar 5. Goldstein CM, Josephson R, Xie S, Hughes JW. Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242, USA.

Meditate to create: the impact of focused-attention and open-monitoring training...



Full title: Meditate to create: the impact of focused-attention and open-monitoring training on convergent and divergent thinking.

The practice of meditation has seen a tremendous increase in the western world since the 60s. Scientific interest in meditation has also significantly grown in the past years; however, so far, it has neglected the idea that different type of meditations may drive specific cognitive-control states. In this study we investigate the possible impact of meditation based on focused-attention (FA) and meditation based on open-monitoring (OM) on creativity tasks tapping into convergent and divergent thinking. We show that FA meditation and OM meditation exert specific effect on creativity. First, OM meditation induces a control state that promotes divergent thinking, a style of thinking that allows many new ideas of being generated. Second, FA meditation does not sustain convergent thinking, the process of generating one possible solution to a particular problem. We suggest that the enhancement of positive mood induced by meditating has boosted the effect in the first case and counteracted in the second case.

Front Psychol. 2012;3:116. Epub 2012 Apr 18. Colzato LS, Ozturk A, Hommel B. Institute for Psychological Research and Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, Leiden University Leiden, Netherlands.

"Mind the trap": mindfulness practice reduces cognitive rigidity.



Two experiments examined the relation between mindfulness practice and cognitive rigidity by using a variation of the Einstellung water jar task. Participants were required to use three hypothetical jars to obtain a specific amount of water. Initial problems were solvable by the same complex formula, but in later problems ("critical" or "trap" problems) solving was possible by an additional much simpler formula. A rigidity score was compiled through perseverance of the complex formula. In Experiment 1, experienced mindfulness meditators received significantly lower rigidity scores than non-meditators who had registered for their first meditation retreat. Similar results were obtained in randomized controlled Experiment 2 comparing non-meditators who underwent an eight meeting mindfulness program with a waiting list group. The authors conclude that mindfulness meditation reduces cognitive rigidity via the tendency to be "blinded" by experience. Results are discussed in light of the benefits of mindfulness practice regarding a reduced tendency to overlook novel and adaptive ways of responding due to past experience, both in and out of the clinical setting.

PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e36206. Epub 2012 May 15. Greenberg J, Reiner K, Meiran N. Department of Psychology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel.

Meditation increases the depth of information processing...



Full title: Meditation increases the depth of information processing and improves the allocation of attention in space.

During meditation, practitioners are required to center their attention on a specific object for extended periods of time. When their thoughts get diverted, they learn to quickly disengage from the distracter. We hypothesized that learning to respond to the dual demand of engaging attention on specific objects and disengaging quickly from distracters enhances the efficiency by which meditation practitioners can allocate attention. We tested this hypothesis in a global-to-local task while measuring electroencephalographic activity from a group of eight highly trained Buddhist monks and nuns and a group of eight age and education matched controls with no previous meditation experience. Specifically, we investigated the effect of attentional training on the global precedence effect, i.e., faster detection of targets on a global than on a local level. We expected to find a reduced global precedence effect in meditation practitioners but not in controls, reflecting that meditators can more quickly disengage their attention from the dominant global level. Analysis of reaction times confirmed this prediction. To investigate the underlying changes in brain activity and their time course, we analyzed event-related potentials. Meditators showed an enhanced ability to select the respective target level, as reflected by enhanced processing of target level information. In contrast with control group, which showed a local target selection effect only in the P1 and a global target selection effect in the P3 component, meditators showed effects of local information processing in the P1, N2, and P3 and of global processing for the N1,N2, and P3. Thus, meditators seem to display enhanced depth of processing. In addition, meditation altered the uptake of information such that meditators selected target level information earlier in the processing sequence than controls. In a longitudinal experiment, we could replicate the behavioral effects, suggesting that meditation modulates attention already after a 4-day meditation retreat. Together, these results suggest that practicing meditation enhances the speed with which attention can be allocated and relocated, thus increasing the depth of information processing and reducing response latency.

Front Hum Neurosci. 2012;6:133. Epub 2012 May 15. van Leeuwen S, Singer W, Melloni L. Department of Neurophysiology, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Social influences on neuroplasticity: stress and interventions to promote well-being.



Experiential factors shape the neural circuits underlying social and emotional behavior from the prenatal period to the end of life. These factors include both incidental influences, such as early adversity, and intentional influences that can be produced in humans through specific interventions designed to promote prosocial behavior and well-being. Here we review important extant evidence in animal models and humans. Although the precise mechanisms of plasticity are still not fully understood, moderate to severe stress appears to increase the growth of several sectors of the amygdala, whereas the effects in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex tend to be opposite. Structural and functional changes in the brain have been observed with cognitive therapy and certain forms of meditation and lead to the suggestion that well-being and other prosocial characteristics might be enhanced through training.

Nat Neurosci. 2012 Apr 15;15(5):689-95. doi: 10.1038/nn.3093. Davidson RJ, McEwen BS. Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior and Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA. rjdavids@wisc.edu

Compassion, Ethics, and Neuroscience: Neuroethics Through Buddhist Eyes.



As scientists advance knowledge of the brain and develop technologies to measure, evaluate, and manipulate brain function, numerous questions arise for religious adherents. If neuroscientists can conclusively establish that there is a functional network between neural impulses and an individual's capacity for moral evaluation of situations, this will naturally lead to questions about the relationship between such a network and constructions of moral value and ethical human behavior. For example, if cognitive neuroscience can show that there is a neurophysiological basis for the moral appraisal of situations, it may be argued that the world's religions, which have traditionally been the keepers and purveyors of ethical values, are rendered either spurious or irrelevant. The questions point up broader dilemmas in the interface between science and religion, and raise concerns about the ethics of neurological research and experimentation. Since human beings will still arbitrate what is "moral" or "ethical," how can religious perspectives enrich the dialogue on neuroethical issues and how can neuroscience enrich dialogue on religion? Buddhist views on the nature of consciousness and methods of practice, especially meditation practice, may contribute to discussions on neuroscience and theories about the interrelationship between consciousness and ethical awareness by exploring the role that karma, intentionality, and compassion play in Buddhist understandings of the interrelationship between consciousness and ethics.

Sci Eng Ethics. 2012 May 23. Tsomo KL. University of San Diego, Theology and Religious Studies, San Diego, CA, USA, ktsomo@sandiego.edu.

Meditation-State Functional Connectivity (msFC): Strengthening of the Dorsal Attention Network...



Full title: Meditation-State Functional Connectivity (msFC): Strengthening of the Dorsal Attention Network and Beyond.

Meditation practice alters intrinsic resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) in the default mode network (DMN). However, little is known regarding the effects of meditation on other resting-state networks. The aim of current study was to investigate the effects of meditation experience and meditation-state functional connectivity (msFC) on multiple resting-state networks (RSNs). Meditation practitioners (MPs) performed two 5-minute scans, one during rest, one while meditating. A meditation naïve control group (CG) underwent one resting-state scan. Exploratory regression analyses of the relations between years of meditation practice and rsFC and msFC were conducted. During resting-state, MP as compared to CG exhibited greater rsFC within the Dorsal Attention Network (DAN). Among MP, meditation, as compared to rest, strengthened FC between the DAN and DMN and Salience network whereas it decreased FC between the DAN, dorsal medial PFC, and insula. Regression analyses revealed positive correlations between the number of years of meditation experience and msFC between DAN, thalamus, and anterior parietal sulcus, whereas negative correlations between DAN, lateral and superior parietal, and insula. These findings suggest that the practice of meditation strengthens FC within the DAN as well as strengthens the coupling between distributed networks that are involved in attention, self-referential processes, and affective response.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:680407. Epub 2012 Feb 12. Froeliger B, Garland EL, Kozink RV, Modlin LA, Chen NK, McClernon FJ, Greeson JM, Sobin P. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27708, USA.

Meditation-State Functional Connectivity (msFC): Strengthening of the Dorsal Attention Network...



Full title: Meditation-State Functional Connectivity (msFC): Strengthening of the Dorsal Attention Network and Beyond.

Meditation practice alters intrinsic resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) in the default mode network (DMN). However, little is known regarding the effects of meditation on other resting-state networks. The aim of current study was to investigate the effects of meditation experience and meditation-state functional connectivity (msFC) on multiple resting-state networks (RSNs). Meditation practitioners (MPs) performed two 5-minute scans, one during rest, one while meditating. A meditation naïve control group (CG) underwent one resting-state scan. Exploratory regression analyses of the relations between years of meditation practice and rsFC and msFC were conducted. During resting-state, MP as compared to CG exhibited greater rsFC within the Dorsal Attention Network (DAN). Among MP, meditation, as compared to rest, strengthened FC between the DAN and DMN and Salience network whereas it decreased FC between the DAN, dorsal medial PFC, and insula. Regression analyses revealed positive correlations between the number of years of meditation experience and msFC between DAN, thalamus, and anterior parietal sulcus, whereas negative correlations between DAN, lateral and superior parietal, and insula. These findings suggest that the practice of meditation strengthens FC within the DAN as well as strengthens the coupling between distributed networks that are involved in attention, self-referential processes, and affective response.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:680407. Epub 2012 Feb 12. Froeliger B, Garland EL, Kozink RV, Modlin LA, Chen NK, McClernon FJ, Greeson JM, Sobin P. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27708, USA.

Mindfulness training: an adjunctive role in the management of chronic illness?



Narrowly defined, mindfulness is the tendency to encounter moment-to-moment experience without being lost in unhelpful or distressing thoughts triggered by the experience. Mindfulness training involves group instruction in and discussion of a variety of meditation styles aimed at enhancing this tendency in daily life.There is an accumulating evidence base, albeit of variable quality, which suggests that mindfulness training, when used as part of an integrated approach to chronic disease management, may help alleviate associated psychological distress and improve patients' quality of life.

Med J Aust. 2012 May 24;196(9):569-71. Monshat K, Castle DJ. St Vincent's Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. k.monshat@unimelb.edu.au.

Heartbeat evoked potentials mirror altered body perception in depressed patients.



OBJECTIVE: Awareness of stimuli originating inside of the body (interoceptive awareness) is thought to have an impact on psychopathology. The aim of the present study was to analyze whether heartbeat perception accuracy is reduced in depressed patients. Furthermore, we investigated whether putative differences are reflected in heartbeat-evoked potentials. METHOD: We assessed the heartbeat perception score in 16 depressed patients and in matched healthy controls. A 63-channel EEG was recorded while participants counted pseudo-randomly presented target tones or heartbeats during a fixed number of cardiac cycles. ECG R-waves served as the trigger for EEG averaging. The cardiac-field artifact was minimized using independent component analysis and current-source density. RESULTS: Behaviorally, the depressed sample showed less accurate heartbeat perception in comparison to the control group (p=.011). The two groups also demonstrated psychophysiological differences, showing that heartbeat-evoked potentials were significantly reduced in depressed patients. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that heartbeat evoked potentials are objective markers of altered bodily awareness. Reduced interoception during depression may be linked to alexithymia, as well as to both decreased capacity for decision-making and for cognitive processing. SIGNIFICANCE: It may be helpful to practice interoceptive awareness to improve depressive symptoms, for example by practicing meditation. Clin Neurophysiol. 2012 Apr 25. Terhaar J, Viola FC, Bär KJ, Debener S. Pain and Autonomics - Integrative Research (PAIR), Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Philosophenweg 3, University Hospital, Jena, Germany.

Effect of pranayama and meditation as an add-on therapy in rehabilitation of patients...



Full title: Effect of pranayama and meditation as an add-on therapy in rehabilitation of patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome-a randomized control pilot study

Objective: To study the add-on effects of pranayama and meditation in rehabilitation of patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). Patients and Method: This randomized control pilot study was conducted in neurological rehabilitation unit of university tertiary research hospital. Twenty-two GBS patients, who consented for the study and satisfied selection criteria, were randomly assigned to yoga and control groups. Ten patients in each group completed the study. The yoga group received 15 sessions in total over a period of 3 weeks (1 h/session), one session per day on 5 days per week that consisted of relaxation, Pranayama (breathing practices) and Guided meditation in addition to conventional rehabilitation therapeutics. The control group received usual rehabilitation care. All the patients were assessed using Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, Numeric pain rating scale, Hospital anxiety and Depression scale and Barthel index score. Mann-Whitney U test and Wilcoxon's signed rank test were used for statistical analysis. Results: Quality of sleep improved significantly with reduction of PSQI score in the yoga group (p = 0.04). There was reduction of pain scores, anxiety and depression in both the groups without statistical significance between groups (pain p > 0.05, anxiety p > 0.05 and depression p > 0.05). Overall functional status improved in both groups without significant difference (p > 0.05). Conclusions: Significant improvement was observed in quality of sleep with yogic relaxation, pranayama, and meditation in GBS patients.

Disabil Rehabil. 2012 May 24. Sendhilkumar R, Gupta A, Nagarathna R, Taly AB. Neurological Rehabilitation Division, Department of Psychiatric and Neurological Rehabilitation, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS) , Bangalore , India.

Breathing meditation by medical students at Khon Kaen University:...



Full title: Breathing meditation by medical students at Khon Kaen University: effect on psychiatric symptoms, memory, intelligence and academic achievement.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the short-term effects on fifth-year medical students of a 4-week, breathing meditation-based, stress reduction intervention on psychiatric symptoms, memory function, intelligence, and academic achievement. MATERIALS AND METHOD: Using a randomized control trial, the meditation group practiced every 8.00 to 8.20 a.m. before beginning daily learning schedule. Meditation emphasized mindful awareness of the breath during inhaling and exhaling. The control group went about their normal activities in the other room. The psychiatric symptoms were measured using the Symptom Checklist-90 (SCL-90), the memory used the Wechsler Memory Scale-I (WMS-I), the intelligence used the Raven's Advanced Progressive Matrices (APM), and the academic achievement used psychiatry course MCQ examination score. Analysis was done using Ancova statistic. RESULTS: Fifty-eight volunteer medical students during their psychiatry rotation between June 2008 and May 2009, were randomized into either in the meditation (n = 30) or the control (non-meditation) (n = 28) group. There was no significant difference between the groups in their respective SCL-90, WMS-I, APM, and psychiatry course MCQ examination score. CONCLUSION: Among normal, intelligent, mentally healthy persons, short-term breathing meditation practice will not likely change psychiatric symptoms, memory function, intellectual performance, and academic achievement.

J Med Assoc Thai. 2012 Mar;95(3):461-9. Paholpak S, Piyavhatkul N, Rangseekajee P, Krisanaprakornkit T, Arunpongpaisal S, Pajanasoontorn N, Virasiri S, Singkornard J, Rongbudsri S, Udomsri C, Chonprai C, Unprai P. Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand. suchat_p@kku.ac.th

The effect of meditation on brain structure: cortical thickness mapping and diffusion tensor imaging



A convergent line of neuroscientific evidence suggests that meditation alters the functional and structural plasticity of distributed neural processes underlying attention and emotion. The purpose of this study was to examine the brain structural differences between a well-matched sample of long-term meditators and controls. We employed whole-brain cortical thickness analysis based on magnetic resonance imaging, and diffusion tensor imaging to quantify white matter integrity in the brains of 46 experienced meditators compared with 46 matched meditation-naïve volunteers. Meditators, compared with controls, showed significantly greater cortical thickness in the anterior regions of the brain, located in frontal and temporal areas, including the medial prefrontal cortex, superior frontal cortex, temporal pole and the middle and interior temporal cortices. Significantly thinner cortical thickness was found in the posterior regions of the brain, located in the parietal and occipital areas, including the postcentral cortex, inferior parietal cortex, middle occipital cortex and posterior cingulate cortex. Moreover, in the region adjacent to the medial prefrontal cortex, both higher fractional anisotropy values and greater cortical thickness were observed. Our findings suggest that long-term meditators have structural differences in both gray and white matter.

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2012 Jun 8. Kang DH, Jo HJ, Jung WH, Kim SH, Jung YH, Choi CH, Lee US, An SC, Jang JH, Kwon JS. Department of Psychiatry, Seoul National University College of Medicine, 101 Daehak-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-744, Republic of Korea. kwonjs@snu.ac.kr.

The effect of meditation on brain structure: cortical thickness mapping and diffusion tensor imaging



A convergent line of neuroscientific evidence suggests that meditation alters the functional and structural plasticity of distributed neural processes underlying attention and emotion. The purpose of this study was to examine the brain structural differences between a well-matched sample of long-term meditators and controls. We employed whole-brain cortical thickness analysis based on magnetic resonance imaging, and diffusion tensor imaging to quantify white matter integrity in the brains of 46 experienced meditators compared with 46 matched meditation-naïve volunteers. Meditators, compared with controls, showed significantly greater cortical thickness in the anterior regions of the brain, located in frontal and temporal areas, including the medial prefrontal cortex, superior frontal cortex, temporal pole and the middle and interior temporal cortices. Significantly thinner cortical thickness was found in the posterior regions of the brain, located in the parietal and occipital areas, including the postcentral cortex, inferior parietal cortex, middle occipital cortex and posterior cingulate cortex. Moreover, in the region adjacent to the medial prefrontal cortex, both higher fractional anisotropy values and greater cortical thickness were observed. Our findings suggest that long-term meditators have structural differences in both gray and white matter.

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2012 Jun 8. Kang DH, Jo HJ, Jung WH, Kim SH, Jung YH, Choi CH, Lee US, An SC, Jang JH, Kwon JS. Department of Psychiatry, Seoul National University College of Medicine, 101 Daehak-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-744, Republic of Korea. kwonjs@snu.ac.kr.

Peripheral neuromodulation in chronic migraine.



Patients with chronic migraines are often refractory to medical treatment. Therefore, they might need other strategies to modulate their pain, according to their level of disability. Neuromodulation can be achieved with several tools: meditation, biofeedback, physical therapy, drugs and electric neurostimulation (ENS). ENS can be applied to the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), either invasively (cortical or deep brain) or non-invasively [cranial electrotherapy stimulation, transcranial direct current stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation]. Among chronic primary headaches, cluster headaches are most often treated either through deep brain stimulation or occipital nerve stimulation because there is a high level of disability related to this condition. ENS, employed through several modalities such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, interferential currents and pulsed radiofrequency, has been applied to the peripheral nervous system at several sites. We briefly review the indications for the use of peripheral ENS at the site of the occipital nerves for the treatment of chronic migraine.

Neurol Sci. 2012 May;33 Suppl 1:29-31. Perini F, De Boni A. Headache Center, St. Bortolo Hospital, Vicenza, Italy, francesco.perini@ulssvicenza.it.

The Psychological Effects of Meditation: A Meta-Analysis.



In this meta-analysis, we give a comprehensive overview of the effects of meditation on psychological variables that can be extracted from empirical studies, concentrating on the effects of meditation on nonclinical groups of adult meditators. Mostly because of methodological problems, almost ¾ of an initially identified 595 studies had to be excluded. Most studies appear to have been conducted without sufficient theoretical background. To put the results into perspective, we briefly summarize the major theoretical approaches from both East and West. The 163 studies that allowed the calculation of effect sizes exhibited medium average effects (r = .28 for all studies and r = .27 for the n = 125 studies from reviewed journals), which cannot be explained by mere relaxation or cognitive restructuring effects. In general, results were strongest (medium to large) for changes in emotionality and relationship issues, less strong (about medium) for measures of attention, and weakest (small to medium) for more cognitive measures. However, specific findings varied across different approaches to meditation (transcendental meditation, mindfulness meditation, and other meditation techniques). Surprisingly, meditation experience only partially covaried with long-term impact on the variables examined. In general, the dependent variables used cover only some of the content areas about which predictions can be made from already existing theories about meditation; still, such predictions lack precision at present. We conclude that to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of why and how meditation works, emphasis should be placed on the development of more precise theories and measurement devices.

Psychol Bull. 2012 May 14. Sedlmeier P, Eberth J, Schwarz M, Zimmermann D, Haarig F, Jaeger S, Kunze S.

Event-related delta, theta, alpha, and gamma correlates to auditory oddball processing...



Full title: Event-related delta, theta, alpha, and gamma correlates to auditory oddball processing during Vipassana meditation.

Long-term Vipassana meditators sat in meditation vs. a control (instructed mind wandering) states for 25 min, EEG was recorded and condition order counterbalanced. For the last four min, a three-stimulus auditory oddball series was presented during both meditation and control periods through headphones and no task imposed. Time-frequency analysis demonstrated that meditation relative to the control condition evinced decreased evoked delta (2-4 Hz) power to distracter stimuli concomitantly with a greater event-related reduction of late (500-900 ms) alpha-1 (8-10 Hz) activity, which indexed altered dynamics of attentional engagement to distracters. Additionally, standard stimuli were associated with increased early event-related alpha phase synchrony (intertrial coherence) and evoked theta (4-8 Hz) phase synchrony, suggesting enhanced processing of the habituated standard background stimuli. Lastly, during meditation there was a greater differential early-evoked gamma power to the different stimulus classes. Correlation analysis indicated that this effect stemmed from a meditation state-related increase in early distracter-evoked gamma power and phase synchrony specific to longer-term expert practitioners. The findings suggest that Vipassana meditation evokes a brain state of enhanced perceptual clarity and decreased automated reactivity.

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2012 May 29. Cahn BR, Delorme A, Polich J. Address correspondence to: B. Rael Cahn, M.D., Ph.D. University of California, Irvine Department of Psychiatry 101 The City Drive South, Rt 88 Rm 207 Orange, CA 92868 (714) 456-5770 rael.cahn@gmail.com.

MBSR vs. Aerobic Exercise in Social Anxiety: fMRI of Emotion Regulation of Negative Self-Beliefs.



Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is thought to reduce emotional reactivity and enhance emotion regulation in patients with social anxiety disorder (SAD). The goal of this study was to examine the neural correlates of deploying attention to regulate responses to negative self-beliefs using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Participants were 56 patients with generalized SAD in a randomized controlled trial who were assigned to MBSR or a comparison aerobic exercise (AE) stress reduction program. Compared to AE, MBSR yielded greater (a) reductions in negative emotion when implementing regulation, and (b) increases in attention-related parietal cortical regions. Meditation practice was associated with decreases in negative emotion and social anxiety symptom severity, and increases in attention-related parietal cortex neural responses when implementing attention regulation of negative self-beliefs. Changes in attention regulation during MBSR may be an important psychological factor that helps to explain how mindfulness meditation training benefits patients with anxiety disorders.

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2012 May 13. Goldin P, Ziv M, Jazaieri H, Hahn K, Gross JJ. Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Jordan Hall, Bldg. 420, Stanford, CA 94305-2130, Telephone: 650-723-5977, Fax: 650-725-5699 pgoldin@stanford.edu.

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