Research: KERR and COLLEAGUES,

Listed in Issue 200

Abstract

KERR and COLLEAGUES, Harvard Osher Research Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA. cathy.catherinekerr@gmail.com investigated whether alpha modulation can be enhanced by ‘mindfulness’ meditation (MM), a program training practitioners in sustained attention to body and breath-related sensations.

Background

During selective attention, ~7-14 Hz alpha rhythms are modulated in early sensory cortices, suggesting a mechanistic role for these dynamics in perception.

Methodology

Here, the authors investigated whether alpha modulation can be enhanced by ‘mindfulness’ meditation (MM), a program training practitioners in sustained attention to body and breath-related sensations. The authors hypothesized that participants in the MM group would exhibit enhanced alpha power modulation in a localized representation in the primary somatosensory neocortex in response to a cue, as compared to participants in the control group. Healthy subjects were randomized to 8-weeks of MM training or a control group.

Results

Using magnetoencephalographic (MEG) recording of the SI finger representation, the authors found meditators demonstrated enhanced alpha power modulation in response to a cue.

Conclusion

This finding is the first to show enhanced local alpha modulation following sustained attentional training, and implicates this form of enhanced dynamic neural regulation in the behavioral effects of meditative practice

References

Kerr CE, Jones SR, Wan Q, Pritchett DL, Wasserman RH, Wexler A, Villanueva JJ, Shaw JR, Lazar SW, Kaptchuk TJ, Littenberg R, Hamalainen MS, Moore CI. Effects of mindfulness meditation training on anticipatory alpha modulation in primary somatosensory cortex. Brain Research Bulletin. 85(3-4): 96-103. May 30 2011.

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