On Mind Wandering, Attention, Brain Networks, and Meditation

Explore (NY). May-Jun 2013;9(3):136-41. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2013.02.005.

Abstract

Human attention selectively focuses on aspects of experience that are threatening, pleasant, or novel. The physical threats of the ancient times have largely been replaced by chronic psychological worries and hurts. The mind gets drawn to these worries and hurts, mostly in the domain of the past and future, leading to mind wandering. In the brain, a network of neurons called the default mode network has been associated with mind wandering. Abnormal activity in the default mode network may predispose to depression, anxiety, attention deficit, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Several studies show that meditation can reverse some of these abnormalities, producing salutary functional and structural changes in the brain. This narrative review presents a mechanistic understanding of meditation in the context of recent advances in neurosciences about mind wandering, attention, and the brain networks.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / therapy
  • Attention*
  • Brain*
  • Depression / therapy
  • Humans
  • Meditation*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Mental Processes*
  • Nerve Net*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy