Department of Quantitative Health Sciences
Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology
OBJECTIVE: We investigated common and dissociable neural and psychological correlates of two widely used meditation-based stress reduction programs.
METHODS: Participants were randomized to the Relaxation Response (RR; n = 18; 56% female) or the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR; n = 16; 56% female) programs. Both programs use a "bodyscan" meditation; however, the RR program explicitly emphasizes physical relaxation during this practice, whereas the MBSR program emphasizes mindful awareness with no explicit relaxation instructions. After the programs, neural activity during the respective meditation was investigated using functional magnetic resonance imaging.
RESULTS: Both programs were associated with reduced stress (for RR, from 14.1 +/- 6.6 to 11.3 +/- 5.5 [Cohen's d = 0.50; for MBSR, from 17.7 +/- 5.7 to 11.9 +/- 5.0 [Cohen's d = 1.02]). Conjunction analyses revealed functional coupling between ventromedial prefrontal regions and supplementary motor areas (p < .001). The disjunction analysis indicated that the RR bodyscan was associated with stronger functional connectivity of the right inferior frontal gyrus-an important hub of intentional inhibition and control-with supplementary motor areas (p < .001, family-wise error [FWE] rate corrected). The MBSR program was uniquely associated with improvements in self-compassion and rumination, and the within-group analysis of MBSR bodyscan revealed significant functional connectivity of the right anterior insula-an important hub of sensory awareness and salience-with pregenual anterior cingulate during bodyscan meditation compared with rest (p = .03, FWE corrected).
CONCLUSIONS: The bodyscan exercises in each program were associated with both overlapping and differential functional coupling patterns, which were consistent with each program's theoretical foundation. These results may have implications for the differential effects of these programs for the treatment of diverse conditions.
meditation, mindfulness, mindfulness-based stress reduction program, relaxation response, bodyscan
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Copyright © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on behalf of the American Psychosomatic Society. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License 4.0 (CCBY-NC-ND), where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially without permission from the journal.
DOI of Published Version
Psychosom Med. 2018 Jun;80(5):439-451. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000590. Link to article on publisher's site
Sevinc G, Holzel BK, Hashmi J, Greenberg J, McCallister A, Treadway M, Schneider ML, Dusek JA, Carmody JF, Lazar SW. (2018). Common and Dissociable Neural Activity After Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Relaxation Response Programs. Open Access Publications by UMass Chan Authors. https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000000590. Retrieved from https://escholarship.umassmed.edu/oapubs/3496
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.