Effects of mindfulness meditation training on anticipatory alpha modulation in primary somatosensory cortex

Brain Res Bull. 2011 May 30;85(3-4):96-103. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2011.03.026. Epub 2011 Apr 8.


During selective attention, ∼7-14 Hz alpha rhythms are modulated in early sensory cortices, suggesting a mechanistic role for these dynamics in perception. Here, we investigated whether alpha modulation can be enhanced by "mindfulness" meditation (MM), a program training practitioners in sustained attention to body and breath-related sensations. We hypothesized that participants in the MM group would exhibit enhanced alpha power modulation in a localized representation in the primary somatosensory neocortex in response to a cue, as compared to participants in the control group. Healthy subjects were randomized to 8-weeks of MM training or a control group. Using magnetoencephalographic (MEG) recording of the SI finger representation, we found meditators demonstrated enhanced alpha power modulation in response to a cue. This finding is the first to show enhanced local alpha modulation following sustained attentional training, and implicates this form of enhanced dynamic neural regulation in the behavioral effects of meditative practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alpha Rhythm / physiology*
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cues
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Male
  • Meditation*
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Signal Detection, Psychological / physiology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Spectrum Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Touch / physiology*
  • Young Adult