Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Chinese Meditation Found to Boost Brain Connectivity

03.09.2010
Just 11 hours of learning a meditation technique induces positive structural changes in brain connectivity by boosting efficiency in a part of the brain that helps a person regulate behavior in accordance with their goals, researchers report.

The technique -- integrative body-mind training (IBMT) -- has been the focus of intense scrutiny by a team of Chinese researchers led by Yi-Yuan Tang of Dalian University of Technology in collaboration with University of Oregon psychologist Michael I. Posner.

IBMT was adapted from traditional Chinese medicine in the 1990s in China, where it is practiced by thousands of people. It is now being taught to undergraduates involved in research on the method at the University of Oregon.

The new research -- published online the week of Aug. 16-21 ahead of regular publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences -- involved 45 UO students (28 males and 17 females); 22 subjects received IBMT while 23 participants were in a control group that received the same amount of relaxation training. The experiments involved the use of brain-imaging equipment in the UO's Robert and Beverly Lewis Center for Neuroimaging.

A type of magnetic resonance called diffusion tensor imaging allowed researchers to examine fibers connecting brain regions before and after training. The changes were strongest in connections involving the anterior cingulate, a brain area related to the ability to regulate emotions and behavior. The changes were observed only in those who practiced meditation and not in the control group. The changes in connectivity began after six hours of training and became clear by 11 hours of practice. The researchers said it is possible the changes resulted from a reorganization of white-matter tracts or by an increase of myelin that surrounds the connections.

"The importance of our findings relates to the ability to make structural changes in a brain network related to self regulation," said Posner, who last fall received a National Medal of Science. "The pathway that has the largest change due to IBMT is one that previously was shown to relate to individual differences in the person's ability to regulate conflict."

In 2007 in PNAS, Tang, a visiting scholar at the UO, and Posner documented that doing IBMT for five days prior to a mental math test led to low levels of the stress hormone cortisol among Chinese students. The experimental group also showed lower levels of anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue than students in a relaxation control group.

In 2009 in PNAS, Tang and Chinese colleagues, with assistance from Posner and UO psychology professor Mary K. Rothbart, found that IBMT subjects in China had increased blood flow in the right anterior cingulate cortex after receiving training for 20 minutes a day over five days. Compared with the relaxation group, IBMT subjects also had lower heart rates and skin conductance responses, increased belly breathing amplitude and decreased chest respiration rates.

The latter findings suggested the possibility that additional training might trigger structural changes in the brain, leading to the new research, Tang and Posner said. The researchers currently are extending their evaluation to determine if longer exposure to IBMT will produce positive changes in the size of the anterior cingulate.

Deficits in activation of the anterior cingulate cortex have been associated with attention deficit disorder, dementia, depression, schizophrenia and many other disorders. "We believe this new finding is of interest to the fields of education, health and neuroscience, as well as for the general public," Tang said.

In their conclusion, the researchers wrote that the new findings suggest a use of IBMT as a vehicle for understanding how training influences brain plasticity.

IBMT is not yet available in the United States beyond the research being done at the UO. The practice avoids struggles to control thought, relying instead on a state of restful alertness, allowing for a high degree of body-mind awareness while receiving instructions from a coach, who provides breath-adjustment guidance and mental imagery and other techniques while soothing music plays in the background. Thought control is achieved gradually through posture, relaxation, body-mind harmony and balanced breathing. A good coach is critical, Tang said.

Co-authors with Tang and Posner on the new PNAS paper were Qilin Lu of the Dalian University of Technology and Xiujuan Geng, Elliot A. Stein and Yihong Yang, all of the National Institute on Drug Abuse-Intramural Research Program in Baltimore, Md.

The James S. Bower Foundation based in Santa Barbara, Calif., John Templeton Foundation in West Conshohocken, PA, National Natural Science Foundation of China and U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse-Intramural Research Program supported the research.

About the University of Oregon
The University of Oregon is a world-class teaching and research institution and Oregon's flagship public university. The UO is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization made up of the 63 leading public and private research institutions in the United States and Canada. The UO is one of only two AAU members in the Pacific Northwest.

Media Contact: Jim Barlow, director of science and research communications, 541-346-3481, jebarlow@uoregon.edu

Links:
Posner Web page: http://www.neuro.uoregon.edu/ionmain/htdocs/faculty/posner.html
Yi-Yuan Tang site on IBMT: http://www.yi-yuan.net/english/tyy.asp
Dalian University of Technology (English version): http://www.dlut.edu.cn/en/
National Institute on Drug Abuse-Intramural Research Program: http://irp.drugabuse.gov/
James S. Bower Foundation: http://www.jsbowerfoundation.org/
John Templeton Foundation: http://www.templeton.org/

Jim Barlow | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.uoregon.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Millions through license revenues
27.04.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht New High-Performance Center Translational Medical Engineering
26.04.2017 | Fraunhofer ITEM

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>