Influence of meditation on anti-correlated networks in the brain

Zoran Josipovic, Ilan Dinstein, Jochen Weber, David J. Heeger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Human experiences can be broadly divided into those that are external and related to interaction with the environment, and experiences that are internal and self-related. The cerebral cortex appears to be divided into two corresponding systems: an "extrinsic" system composed of brain areas that respond more to external stimuli and tasks and an "intrinsic" system composed of brain areas that respond less to external stimuli and tasks. These two broad brain systems seem to compete with each other, such that their activity levels over time is usually anti-correlated, even when subjects are "at rest" and not performing any task. This study used meditation as an experimental manipulation to test whether this competition (anti-correlation) can be modulated by cognitive strategy. Participants either fixated without meditation (fixation), or engaged in non-dual awareness (NDA) or focused attention (FA) meditations. We computed inter-area correlations ("functional connectivity") between pairs of brain regions within each system, and between the entire extrinsic and intrinsic systems. Anti-correlation between extrinsic vs. intrinsic systems was stronger during FA meditation and weaker during NDA meditation in comparison to fixation (without mediation). However, correlation between areas within each system did not change across conditions. These results suggest that the anti-correlation found between extrinsic and intrinsic systems is not an immutable property of brain organization and that practicing different forms of meditation can modulate this gross functional organization in profoundly different ways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Issue numberJANUARY 2012
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 3 2012

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Meditation
Brain
Cerebral Cortex

Keywords

  • Brain networks
  • Default mode
  • Extrinsic system
  • Functional connectivity
  • Intrinsic system
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Non-dual awareness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neurology
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology

Cite this

Influence of meditation on anti-correlated networks in the brain. / Josipovic, Zoran; Dinstein, Ilan; Weber, Jochen; Heeger, David J.

In: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, No. JANUARY 2012, 03.01.2012, p. 1-11.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Josipovic, Zoran ; Dinstein, Ilan ; Weber, Jochen ; Heeger, David J. / Influence of meditation on anti-correlated networks in the brain. In: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 2012 ; No. JANUARY 2012. pp. 1-11.
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