The structure of mindful brain

PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e46377. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046377. Epub 2012 Sep 28.


Mindfulness is currently attracting a great deal of attention as a psychotherapy technique. It is defined as bringing one's complete attention to the experiences occurring in the present moment in a nonjudgmental or accepting way. The Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) was developed to assess individual differences in mindfulness states. The FFMQ is composed of five facets representing elements of mindfulness: non-reactivity to inner experience, non-judging, acting with awareness, describing, and observing. In the present study, we applied voxel-based morphometry to investigate the relationship between the brain structure and each facet as measured by the FFMQ. The results showed a positive association between the describing facet of mindfulness on the FFMQ and gray matter volume in the right anterior insula and the right amygdala. In conclusion, mindfulness was related with development in parts of the somatic marker circuit of the brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Amygdala / anatomy & histology*
  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Awareness / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Meditation
  • Periaqueductal Gray / anatomy & histology*
  • Periaqueductal Gray / physiology
  • Psychometrics
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult

Grant support

This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for JSPS Fellows (No. 208551 and No. 20821) and by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B) (No. 20330148) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.