Cerebral blood flow differences between long-term meditators and non-meditators

Conscious Cogn. 2010 Dec;19(4):899-905. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2010.05.003. Epub 2010 Jun 8.


We have studied a number of long-term meditators in previous studies. The purpose of this study was to determine if there are differences in baseline brain function of experienced meditators compared to non-meditators. All subjects were recruited as part of an ongoing study of different meditation practices. We evaluated 12 advanced meditators and 14 non-meditators with cerebral blood flow (CBF) SPECT imaging at rest. Images were analyzed with both region of interest and statistical parametric mapping. The CBF of long-term meditators was significantly higher (p<.05) compared to non-meditators in the prefrontal cortex, parietal cortex, thalamus, putamen, caudate, and midbrain. There was also a significant difference in the thalamic laterality with long-term meditators having greater asymmetry. The observed changes associated with long-term meditation appear in structures that underlie the attention network and also those that relate to emotion and autonomic function.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Caudate Nucleus / blood supply
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Male
  • Meditation / psychology*
  • Mesencephalon / blood supply
  • Middle Aged
  • Parietal Lobe / blood supply
  • Prefrontal Cortex / blood supply
  • Putamen / blood supply
  • Reference Values
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Thalamus / blood supply
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon*
  • Young Adult