Mindfulness Meditation Training and Executive Control Network Resting State Functional Connectivity: A Randomized Controlled Trial.



Mindfulness meditation training has been previously shown to enhance behavioral measures of executive control (e.g., attention, working memory, cognitive control), but the neural mechanisms underlying these improvements are largely unknown. Here, we test whether mindfulness training interventions foster executive control by strengthening functional connections between dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC)-a hub of the executive control network-and frontoparietal regions that coordinate executive function.


Thirty-five adults with elevated levels of psychological distress participated in a 3-day randomized controlled trial of intensive mindfulness meditation or relaxation training. Participants completed a resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging scan before and after the intervention. We tested whether mindfulness meditation training increased resting state functional connectivity (rsFC) between dlPFC and frontoparietal control network regions.


Left dlPFC showed increased connectivity to the right inferior frontal gyrus (T = 3.74), right middle frontal gyrus (MFG) (T = 3.98), right supplementary eye field (T = 4.29), right parietal cortex (T = 4.44), and left middle temporal gyrus (T = 3.97, all p < .05) after mindfulness training relative to the relaxation control. Right dlPFC showed increased connectivity to right MFG (T = 4.97, p < .05).


We report that mindfulness training increases rsFC between dlPFC and dorsal network (superior parietal lobule, supplementary eye field, MFG) and ventral network (right IFG, middle temporal/angular gyrus) regions. These findings extend previous work showing increased functional connectivity among brain regions associated with executive function during active meditation by identifying specific neural circuits in which rsFC is enhanced by a mindfulness intervention in individuals with high levels of psychological distress.

A Network-Based Neurobiological Model of PTSD: Evidence From Structural and Functional Neuroimaging Studies.

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2017 Sep 19;19(11):81. doi: 10.1007/s11920-017-0840-4.

Akiki TJ1,2, Averill CL1,2, Abdallah CG3,4.


Mindfulness research

In 1992 the Dalai Lama offered neuroscientist Richard Davidson, founder and director of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the opportunity to scan brains of Tibetan monks to learn if years of cultivating well-being created changes in the brain. The monks had lifetime practices of mindfulness meditation with focus on compassion and loving kindness. Their functional MRIs showed very well-developed insula, the region of the brain that is activated by focus and attention on the body and on feelings. This finding also extends to the brains of those who have training in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, a program designed by Jon Kabat-Zinn (Davidson and Begley 2012).

(p. 42). from “Your Brain on Ink”