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Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation.

08 Dec

A new study shows that a brief mindfulness meditation training program produces significant increases in left-sided, anterior activation in the brain and increases in antibody titers to influenza vaccine.

Researchers performed a randomized, controlled study to discover the effects of an 8-week training program of mindfulness meditation on brain and immune function with healthy employees in a work environment.

Brain electrical activity was measured on 25 participants before the program and immediately after it, as well as 4 months later. A wait list of 16 was also measured at the same intervals. At the end of the 8-week period, subjects in both groups were vaccinated with influenza vaccine.

Findings revealed significant increases in left-sided, anterior activation in meditators (a pattern previously associated with positive mood), as opposed to the non-meditators In addition, there were significant increases in antibody titers to influenza vaccine among the subjects in the meditation condition, as compared with those in the control group. The degree of left-sided activation predicted the degree of antibody titer rise to the vaccine.

The study concludes that a short program of mindfulness meditation produces demonstrable positive effects on brain and immune function and further research is indicated.

Citation: Davidson RJ, Kabat-Zinn J, Schumacher J, Rosencranz M, Miller D, Santorelli SF, Urbanowski F, Harrington A, Bonus K, Sheridan J. Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine 65: pp 564-570 (2003).
Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award