Functional neural correlates of mindfulness meditations in comparison with psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy and placebo effect. Is there a link?

Alberto Chiesa, Paolo Brambilla, Alessandro Serretti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: Mindfulness meditations (MM) are a group of meditation practices which are increasingly receiving attention. The aim of the present work is to review current findings about the neural correlates of MM and compare such findings with other specific and non-specific treatments. Methods: A literature search was undertaken using MEDLINE, ISI web of knowledge, the Cochrane database and references of retrieved articles. Studies which focused on the functional neural correlates of MM, psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy and placebo published up to August 2009 were screened in order to be considered for the inclusion. Results: Main findings suggest that long-term MM practice allows a more flexible emotional regulation by engaging frontal cortical structures to dampen automatic amygdala activation. A large overlap exists between cerebral areas activated during MM, psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy and those activated by placebo. However, while MM, psychotherapy and placebo seem to act through a top-down regulation, antidepressants seem to act through a bottom-up process. Conclusion: MM seem to target specific brain areas related to emotions and emotional regulation. Similar mechanisms have been observed also in other interventions, particularly psychotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-117
Number of pages14
JournalActa Neuropsychiatrica
Volume22
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010

Keywords

  • Mindfulness
  • Neuroimaging
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Placebo
  • Psychotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Functional neural correlates of mindfulness meditations in comparison with psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy and placebo effect. Is there a link?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this