Using Wavelet Entropy to Demonstrate how Mindfulness Practice Increases Coordination between Irregular Cerebral and Cardiac Activities

J Vis Exp. 2017 May 10;(123):55455. doi: 10.3791/55455.


In both the East and West, traditional teachings say that the mind and heart are somehow closely correlated, especially during spiritual practice. One difficulty in proving this objectively is that the natures of brain and heart activities are quite different. In this paper, we propose a methodology that uses wavelet entropy to measure the chaotic levels of both electroencephalogram (EEG) and electrocardiogram (ECG) data and show how this may be used to explore the potential coordination between the mind and heart under different experimental conditions. Furthermore, Statistical Parametric Mapping (SPM) was used to identify the brain regions in which the EEG wavelet entropy was the most affected by the experimental conditions. As an illustration, the EEG and ECG were recorded under two different conditions (normal rest and mindful breathing) at the beginning of an 8-week standard Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training course (pretest) and after the course (posttest). Using the proposed method, the results consistently showed that the wavelet entropy of the brain EEG decreased during the MBSR mindful breathing state as compared to that during the closed-eye resting state. Similarly, a lower wavelet entropy of heartrate was found during MBSR mindful breathing. However, no difference in wavelet entropy during MBSR mindful breathing was found between the pretest and posttest. No correlation was observed between the entropy of brain waves and the entropy of heartrate during normal rest in all participants, whereas a significant correlation was observed during MBSR mindful breathing. Additionally, the most well-correlated brain regions were located in the central areas of the brain. This study provides a methodology for the establishment of evidence that mindfulness practice (i.e., mindful breathing) may increase the coordination between mind and heart activities.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Electroencephalography
  • Entropy
  • Female
  • Heart / physiopathology*
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mindfulness / education
  • Mindfulness / methods*
  • Practice, Psychological
  • Psychophysiology
  • Respiration
  • Wavelet Analysis*