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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2016, Article ID 9504642, 14 pages
Research Article

State and Training Effects of Mindfulness Meditation on Brain Networks Reflect Neuronal Mechanisms of Its Antidepressant Effect

1Departamento de Psicología Básica, Clínica y Psicobiología, Universitat Jaume I, 12071 Castellón, Spain
2Clinical Affective Neuroimaging Laboratory, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany
3Department of Behavioral Neurology, Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology, 39118 Magdeburg, Germany
4Departamento de Psicología Evolutiva, Educativa, Social y Metodología, Universitat Jaume I, 12071 Castellón, Spain
5Departamento de Didáctica de la Matemática, Facultad de Magisterio de la Universidad de Valencia, 46022 Valencia, Spain
6Departamento de Psicologia y Sociologia, Universidad de Zaragoza, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain
7Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Otto-von-Guericke University, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany
8Center for Behavioral Brain Sciences (CBBS), 39120 Magdeburg, Germany
9Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Eberhard Karls University, 72076 Tuebingen, Germany

Received 17 August 2015; Revised 10 January 2016; Accepted 11 January 2016

Academic Editor: Bruno Poucet

Copyright © 2016 Chuan-Chih Yang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The topic of investigating how mindfulness meditation training can have antidepressant effects via plastic changes in both resting state and meditation state brain activity is important in the rapidly emerging field of neuroplasticity. In the present study, we used a longitudinal design investigating resting state fMRI both before and after 40 days of meditation training in 13 novices. After training, we compared differences in network connectivity between rest and meditation using common resting state functional connectivity methods. Interregional methods were paired with local measures such as Regional Homogeneity. As expected, significant differences in functional connectivity both between states (rest versus meditation) and between time points (before versus after training) were observed. During meditation, the internal consistency in the precuneus and the temporoparietal junction increased, while the internal consistency of frontal brain regions decreased. A follow-up analysis of regional connectivity of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex further revealed reduced connectivity with anterior insula during meditation. After meditation training, reduced resting state functional connectivity between the pregenual anterior cingulate and dorsal medical prefrontal cortex was observed. Most importantly, significantly reduced depression/anxiety scores were observed after training. Hence, these findings suggest that mindfulness meditation might be of therapeutic use by inducing plasticity related network changes altering the neuronal basis of affective disorders such as depression.