The Neuroscience and Practice of Meditation
Andrew S. Bonci, BA, DC
Meditation is an ancient practice whereby the mind, its processes, and content are brought into conscious awareness. Although meditative practices are steeped in religious and cultural dross, work over the last three decades has delineated the neuroscience underlying the meditative practice. A recent search of the Fort Hays State University comprehensive electronic holdings returned over 70,000 peer-reviewed articles on meditation. Meditation has entered into the mainstream of objective scientific study and healthcare practice. The challenge is to parse the fact from the fiction, the systematic from the unscientific. This lecture will examine the neuroscience behind the practice of meditation, as discussed in the peer-reviewed literature.
Keywords: Meditation, Mindfulness, Neuroscience, Neurology, Diagnosis, Physical Examination, Wellness
Meditation, both focused attention and open monitoring methods, has been shown to enhance neural networks, white matter tracts, and gray matter densities of select brain regions via functional resonance magnetic imaging (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies. These neuroplastic changes are associated with better impulse control, anger management, as well as a measurable reduction in blood pressure, anxiety, and gastrointestinal complaints. This lecture will focus on the neuroplastic brain changes seen in meditation practice and their significance for the chiropractor and the chiropractic patient. A portion of the lecture will be devoted to the practice of the method of Jon Kabat-Zinn taught through the University of Massachusetts Medical School's Center for Mindfulness called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).
The Therapeutic Goal(s) of Meditation
Focused Attention versus Open Monitoring Meditation in the Medical Literature
Default Mode, Salience, Dorsal-Ventral Attention, Executive Networks codified in Meditative Practice
Elements of Mindfulness
The Practice of Mindfulness
Note on Citations:
Citations will accompany all materials where appropriate according to the writing American Psychological Association style and format for academic documents such as scholarly journal articles and books. Emphasis will be placed on high academic standards.