Meditation improves self-regulation over the life span

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2014 Jan;1307:104-111. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12227. Epub 2013 Aug 22.


The use of meditation to improve emotion and attention regulation has a long history in Asia and there are many practitioners in Western countries. Much of the evidence on the effectiveness of meditation is either anecdotal or a comparison of long-term meditators with controls matched in age and health. Recently, it has been possible to establish changes in self-regulation in undergraduate students after only 5 days of meditation practice, allowing randomized trials comparing effects of meditation with other self-control methods such as relaxation training. Early studies took place in Chinese universities; however, similar effects have been obtained with U.S. undergraduates, and with Chinese children aged 4.5 years and older Chinese participants aged 65 years. Studies using neuroimaging techniques have shown that meditation improves activation and connectivity in brain areas related to self-regulation, and these findings may provide an opportunity to examine remediation of mental disorders in a new light.

Keywords: IBMT; life span; meditation; self-regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Attention
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • China
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Executive Function
  • Humans
  • Meditation / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mind-Body Relations, Metaphysical*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Schizophrenia / therapy
  • Social Control, Informal*
  • Students
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon
  • Young Adult