Open monitoring meditation reduces the involvement of brain regions related to memory function

Sci Rep. 2018 Jul 2;8(1):9968. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-28274-4.


Mindfulness meditation consists of focused attention meditation (FAM) and open monitoring meditation (OMM), both of which reduce activation of the default mode network (DMN) and mind-wandering. Although it is known that FAM requires intentional focused attention, the mechanisms of OMM remain largely unknown. To investigate this, we examined striatal functional connectivity in 17 experienced meditators (mean total practice hours = 920.6) during pre-resting, meditation, and post-resting states comparing OMM with FAM, using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Both FAM and OMM reduced functional connectivity between the striatum and posterior cingulate cortex, which is a core hub region of the DMN. Furthermore, OMM reduced functional connectivity of the ventral striatum with both the visual cortex related to intentional focused attention in the attentional network and retrosplenial cortex related to memory function in the DMN. In contrast, FAM increased functional connectivity in these regions. Our findings suggest that OMM reduces intentional focused attention and increases detachment from autobiographical memory. This detachment may play an important role in non-judgmental and non-reactive attitude during OMM. These findings provide new insights into the mechanisms underlying the contribution of OMM to well-being and happiness.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Meditation*
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Self Report