Dynamic change of awareness during meditation techniques: Neural and physiological correlates

Ravinder Jerath, Vernon A. Barnes, David Dillard-Wright, Shivani Jerath, Brittany Markwalter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

The neurological and physiological study of consciousness presents one of the greatest challenges today. This article presents a description of the psycho physiological changes that take place through meditation practice based on empirical research. Neural correlates of changing awareness during the mind-body response are described as the autonomic nervous system shifts from a sympathetic dominant to a parasympathetic dominant state. The aim of this article is to link the autonomic state with changes in awareness during the practice of mindfulness meditation and link them to the Default Mode Network (DMN). A model is presented illustrating the dynamic mind-body response before and after mindfulness meditation, and connections are made with areas of the brain, as well as the cardiac and respiratory center. Synchronization of the cardiac and respiratory center response during meditation leads to an increase in parasympathetic activity and inhibition of the limbic system, and decrease in activation of the DMN is associated with an increase in cortical functional connectivity. This dynamic modulation of the DMN can be applied to study neural correlates of cognition and consciousness. The article presents a review of current research to illustrate the neural correlates and plasticity of the brain to accommodate such changes in consciousness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number131
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Issue numberSEPTEMBER
StatePublished - Sep 17 2012

Keywords

  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Consciousness
  • Default mode network
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Neuroimaging
  • Pranayama
  • Transcendental meditation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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    Jerath, R., Barnes, V. A., Dillard-Wright, D., Jerath, S., & Markwalter, B. (2012). Dynamic change of awareness during meditation techniques: Neural and physiological correlates. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, (SEPTEMBER), [131].