The neurobiology of Meditation and its clinical effectiveness in psychiatric disorders

Biol Psychol. 2009 Sep;82(1):1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2009.04.003. Epub 2009 Apr 23.


This paper reviews the evidence for changes of Meditation on body and brain physiology and for clinical effectiveness in disorders of psychiatry. The aim of Meditation is to reduce or eliminate irrelevant thought processes through training of internalised attention, thought to lead to physical and mental relaxation, stress reduction, psycho-emotional stability and enhanced concentration. Physiological evidence shows a reduction with Meditation of stress-related autonomic and endocrine measures, while neuroimaging studies demonstrate the functional up-regulation of brain regions of affect regulation and attention control. Clinical studies show some evidence for the effectiveness of Meditation in disorders of affect, anxiety and attention. The combined evidence from neurobiological and clinical studies seems promising. However, a more thorough understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms of action and clinical effectiveness of the different Meditative practices is needed before Meditative practices can be leveraged in the prevention and intervention of mental illness.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Negotiating*
  • Neurobiology*