Frontal theta activity and white matter plasticity following mindfulness meditation

Curr Opin Psychol. 2019 Aug:28:294-297. doi: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2019.04.004. Epub 2019 Apr 18.


Both brain alpha and theta power have been examined in the mindfulness meditation literature and suggested as key biological signatures that potentially facilitate a successful meditative state. However, the exact role of how alpha and theta waves contribute to the initiation and maintenance of a meditative state remains elusive. In this perspective paper, we discuss the role of frontal midline theta (FMθ) activity in brain white matter plasticity following mindfulness meditation. In accordance with the previous studies in humans, we propose that FMθ activity indexes the control needed to maintain the meditation state; whereas alpha activity is related to the preparation needed to achieve the meditative state. Without enough mental preparation, one often struggles with and has difficulty achieving a meditative state. Animal work provides further evidence supporting the hypothesis that mindfulness meditation induces white matter changes through increasing FMθ activity. These studies shed light on how to effectively enhance brain plasticity through mindfulness meditation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alpha Rhythm / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Meditation*
  • Mindfulness*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Theta Rhythm / physiology*
  • White Matter / physiology*