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Martin Prätzlich, Joe Kossowsky, Jens Gaab, Peter Krummenacher
Meditation improves executive functions such as attention and working memory processes. However, it remains unclear to what extent contextual effects contribute to these improvements, since the role of meditation-associated expectations has not been investigated so far. In a randomized, single-blind, deceptive, between-subject design we compared the impact of short-term meditation (MG) on executive functioning with an expectation (ECG) and a passive control group (CG) as well as the effect of positive and negative outcome expectations...
January 15, 2016: Behavioural Brain Research
Cortland J Dahl, Antoine Lutz, Richard J Davidson
Scientific research highlights the central role of specific psychological processes, in particular those related to the self, in various forms of human suffering and flourishing. This view is shared by Buddhism and other contemplative and humanistic traditions, which have developed meditation practices to regulate these processes. Building on a previous paper in this journal, we propose a novel classification system that categorizes specific styles of meditation into attentional, constructive, and deconstructive families based on their primary cognitive mechanisms...
September 2015: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Kathleen A Garrison, Thomas A Zeffiro, Dustin Scheinost, R Todd Constable, Judson A Brewer
Meditation has been associated with relatively reduced activity in the default mode network, a brain network implicated in self-related thinking and mind wandering. However, previous imaging studies have typically compared meditation to rest, despite other studies having reported differences in brain activation patterns between meditators and controls at rest. Moreover, rest is associated with a range of brain activation patterns across individuals that has only recently begun to be better characterized. Therefore, in this study we compared meditation to another active cognitive task, both to replicate the findings that meditation is associated with relatively reduced default mode network activity and to extend these findings by testing whether default mode activity was reduced during meditation, beyond the typical reductions observed during effortful tasks...
September 2015: Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience
Yi-Yuan Tang, Britta K Hölzel, Michael I Posner
Research over the past two decades broadly supports the claim that mindfulness meditation - practiced widely for the reduction of stress and promotion of health - exerts beneficial effects on physical and mental health, and cognitive performance. Recent neuroimaging studies have begun to uncover the brain areas and networks that mediate these positive effects. However, the underlying neural mechanisms remain unclear, and it is apparent that more methodologically rigorous studies are required if we are to gain a full understanding of the neuronal and molecular bases of the changes in the brain that accompany mindfulness meditation...
April 2015: Nature Reviews. Neuroscience
Anne Hauswald, Teresa Übelacker, Sabine Leske, Nathan Weisz
Experienced meditators are able to voluntarily modulate their state of consciousness and attention. In the present study, we took advantage of this ability and studied brain activity related to the shift of mental state. Electrophysiological activity, i.e. EEG, was recorded from 11 subjects with varying degrees of meditation experience during Zen meditation (a form of open monitoring meditation) and during non-meditation rest. On a behavioral level, mindfulness scores were assessed using the Mindfulness Attention and Awareness Scale (MAAS)...
March 2015: NeuroImage
Frederick Travis
This article explores transcendental experiences during meditation practice and the integration of transcendental experiences and the unfolding of higher states of consciousness with waking, dreaming, and sleeping. The subject/object relationship during transcendental experiences is characterized by the absence of time, space, and body sense--the framework that gives meaning to waking experiences. Physiologically, transcendental experiences during Transcendental Meditation practice are marked by slow inhalation, along with autonomic orientation at the onset of breath changes and heightened α1 (8-10 Hz) frontal coherence...
January 2014: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Zoran Josipovic
Dualities such as self versus other, good versus bad, and in-group versus out-group are pervasive features of human experience, structuring the majority of cognitive and affective processes. Yet, an entirely different way of experiencing, one in which such dualities are relaxed rather than fortified, is also available. It depends on recognizing, within the stream of our consciousness, the nondual awareness (NDA)--a background awareness that precedes conceptualization and intention and that can contextualize various perceptual, affective, or cognitive contents without fragmenting the field of experience into habitual dualities...
January 2014: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Judson A Brewer, Patrick D Worhunsky, Jeremy R Gray, Yi-Yuan Tang, Jochen Weber, Hedy Kober
Many philosophical and contemplative traditions teach that "living in the moment" increases happiness. However, the default mode of humans appears to be that of mind-wandering, which correlates with unhappiness, and with activation in a network of brain areas associated with self-referential processing. We investigated brain activity in experienced meditators and matched meditation-naive controls as they performed several different meditations (Concentration, Loving-Kindness, Choiceless Awareness). 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...
December 13, 2011: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
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