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      Mindfulness meditation training alters cortical representations of interoceptive attention

      1 , 1 , 1 , 1 , 1

      Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience

      Oxford University Press (OUP)

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          Abstract

          One component of mindfulness training (MT) is the development of interoceptive attention (IA) to visceral bodily sensations, facilitated through daily practices such as breath monitoring. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we examined experience-dependent functional plasticity in accessing interoceptive representations by comparing graduates of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course to a waitlisted control group. IA to respiratory sensations was contrasted against two visual tasks, controlling for attentional requirements non-specific to IA such as maintaining sensation and suppressing distraction. In anatomically partitioned analyses of insula activity, MT predicted greater IA-related activity in anterior dysgranular insula regions, consistent with greater integration of interoceptive sensation with external context. MT also predicted decreased recruitment of the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (DMPFC) during IA, and altered functional connectivity between the DMPFC and the posterior insula, putative primary interoceptive cortex. Furthermore, meditation practice compliance predicted greater posterior insula and reduced visual pathway recruitment during IA. These findings suggest that interoceptive training modulates task-specific cortical recruitment, analogous to training-related plasticity observed in the external senses. Further, DMPFC modulation of IA networks may be an important mechanism by which MT alters information processing in the brain, increasing the contribution of interoception to perceptual experience.

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          Most cited references 72

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          Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being.

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            Control of goal-directed and stimulus-driven attention in the brain.

            We review evidence for partially segregated networks of brain areas that carry out different attentional functions. One system, which includes parts of the intraparietal cortex and superior frontal cortex, is involved in preparing and applying goal-directed (top-down) selection for stimuli and responses. This system is also modulated by the detection of stimuli. The other system, which includes the temporoparietal cortex and inferior frontal cortex, and is largely lateralized to the right hemisphere, is not involved in top-down selection. Instead, this system is specialized for the detection of behaviourally relevant stimuli, particularly when they are salient or unexpected. This ventral frontoparietal network works as a 'circuit breaker' for the dorsal system, directing attention to salient events. Both attentional systems interact during normal vision, and both are disrupted in unilateral spatial neglect.
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              Dissociable intrinsic connectivity networks for salience processing and executive control.

              Variations in neural circuitry, inherited or acquired, may underlie important individual differences in thought, feeling, and action patterns. Here, we used task-free connectivity analyses to isolate and characterize two distinct networks typically coactivated during functional MRI tasks. We identified a "salience network," anchored by dorsal anterior cingulate (dACC) and orbital frontoinsular cortices with robust connectivity to subcortical and limbic structures, and an "executive-control network" that links dorsolateral frontal and parietal neocortices. These intrinsic connectivity networks showed dissociable correlations with functions measured outside the scanner. Prescan anxiety ratings correlated with intrinsic functional connectivity of the dACC node of the salience network, but with no region in the executive-control network, whereas executive task performance correlated with lateral parietal nodes of the executive-control network, but with no region in the salience network. Our findings suggest that task-free analysis of intrinsic connectivity networks may help elucidate the neural architectures that support fundamental aspects of human behavior.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
                Oxford University Press (OUP)
                1749-5024
                1749-5016
                January 2013
                January 01 2013
                July 6 2012
                January 2013
                January 01 2013
                July 6 2012
                : 8
                : 1
                : 15-26
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest, 3560 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON, Canada M6A 2E1, 2Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, 250 College St, Toronto, ON, Canada M5T 1R8, 3Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 250 College St, Toronto, ON, Canada M5T 1R8 and 4Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, 100 St George Street, Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 3G3
                Article
                10.1093/scan/nss066
                3541492
                22689216
                © 2012

                http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

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