Meditation states and traits: EEG, ERP, and neuroimaging studies

Psychol Bull. 2006 Mar;132(2):180-211. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.132.2.180.


Neuroelectric and imaging studies of meditation are reviewed. Electroencephalographic measures indicate an overall slowing subsequent to meditation, with theta and alpha activation related to proficiency of practice. Sensory evoked potential assessment of concentrative meditation yields amplitude and latency changes for some components and practices. Cognitive event-related potential evaluation of meditation implies that practice changes attentional allocation. Neuroimaging studies indicate increased regional cerebral blood flow measures during meditation. Taken together, meditation appears to reflect changes in anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal areas. Neurophysiological meditative state and trait effects are variable but are beginning to demonstrate consistent outcomes for research and clinical applications. Psychological and clinical effects of meditation are summarized, integrated, and discussed with respect to neuroimaging data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Evoked Potentials*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Meditation*