Scientists studying Chinese mindfulness meditation known as Integrative Body Mind Training (IBMT) have found that the changes in structural efficiency of white matter in the brain can be related to positive behavioral changes in subjects practicing the technique for a month with a minimum of 11 hours in total.
In a paper from the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists Yi-Yuan Tang of Texas Tech and Michael Posner of the University of Oregon reported that improved mood changes coincided with increased brain signaling connections. They also found an expansion of myelin, the protective fatty tissue that surrounds the nerves.
Combining findings from a previous 2010 study of 45 students under magnetic resonance imaging and the latest data of 68 students under diffusion tensor imaging, IBMT has been shown to change white matter efficiency more than students who are given only relaxation training.
“IBMT differs from other forms of meditation because it depends heavily on the inducement of a high degree of awareness and balance of the body, mind and environment. The meditation state is facilitated through training and trainer-group dynamics, harmony and resonance” says the article.
These results are important as “deficits in activation for this area of the brain have been associated with attention deficit disorder, dementia, depression, schizophrenia and many other disorders”, said Tang, who is now the director of Texas Tech’s Neuroimaging Institute and holder of the Presidential Endowed Chair in Neuroscience and professor in the Department of Psychology.
The research is significant as this pattern of white matter change, a part of the brain network related to self regulation, could provide means for intervention to improve or prevent mental disorders.
This article was repurposed from: http://www.pnas.org/content/104/43/17152.abstract