The impact of meditation on the regulation of emotion is perhaps the most salient effect of meditation for the average practitioner. Yet the mechanisms responsible for these alterations are pooriy understood and the consequences of these changes have not been characterized. The purpose of this project is to examine the impact of these two forms of meditation on the neural, biobehavioral and hormonal correlates of emotion regulation among naive practitioners who learn Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and among Long-Term Meditators (LTMs). The MBSR group will be compared with our rigorous comparison intervention, the Health Enhancement Program (HEP) and to Wait List (WL) controls. Both of the active groups will be administered booster training following the completion of the 8-week course to maximize consolidation of learning and increase the amount of practice. These groups will be tested before and after training. The LTMs will be studied on three occasions: once with no practice period prior to testing, once after an intensive day of MM practice and once after an intensive day of LKM-CO practice. Participants will be tested on an emotion regulation task in the scanner during which four conditions will be randomly interspersed across blocks: MM, LKM-CO, relaxation and listening to music. The task will consist of the presentation of pictures depicting human suffering (negative) or human flourishing (positive) while participants engage in one of the four regulatory conditions. Facial electromyography (fEMG) will be recorded from corrugator and zygomatic muscle regions in the scanner to provide real-time online objective measures of emotion during the regulation conditions. Saliva will be collected for three consecutive days, three times/day just prior to each lab visit to provide measures of Cortisol and total Cortisol output to relate to the fMRI measures. We predict that MM will primarily impact fronto-amgydala circutiry and LKM-CO will impact fronto-striatal circuitry and that these neural changes will have downstream biobehavioral effects on reports of daily mood, Cortisol and immune measures collected in this and the other two CERC projects.

Public Health Relevance

This project will provide unique new information on the mechanisms by which two of the most commonly taught meditation practices work. The downstream biobehavioral consequences of these practices will be examined and relations between practice time, changes in brain function and alterations in behavior and peripheral biology will be explored in analyses examining relations among measures across projects.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Research Program Projects (P01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZAT1)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Wisconsin Madison
United States
Zip Code
Kaliman, Perla; Alvarez-López, María Jesús; Cosín-Tomás, Marta et al. (2014) Rapid changes in histone deacetylases and inflammatory gene expression in expert meditators. Psychoneuroendocrinology 40:96-107
Schuyler, Brianna S; Kral, Tammi R A; Jacquart, Jolene et al. (2014) Temporal dynamics of emotional responding: amygdala recovery predicts emotional traits. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 9:176-81
Lutz, Antoine; McFarlin, Daniel R; Perlman, David M et al. (2013) Altered anterior insula activation during anticipation and experience of painful stimuli in expert meditators. Neuroimage 64:538-46
Adluru, Nagesh; Hanlon, Bret M; Lutz, Antoine et al. (2013) Penalized likelihood phenotyping: unifying voxelwise analyses and multi-voxel pattern analyses in neuroimaging: penalized likelihood phenotyping. Neuroinformatics 11:227-47
Adluru, Nagesh; Zhang, Hui; Tromp, Do P M et al. (2013) Effects of DTI spatial normalization on white matter tract reconstructions. Proc SPIE Int Soc Opt Eng 8669:
Ferrarelli, Fabio; Smith, Richard; Dentico, Daniela et al. (2013) Experienced mindfulness meditators exhibit higher parietal-occipital EEG gamma activity during NREM sleep. PLoS One 8:e73417
Weng, Helen Y; Fox, Andrew S; Shackman, Alexander J et al. (2013) Compassion training alters altruism and neural responses to suffering. Psychol Sci 24:1171-80
Levinson, Daniel B; Smallwood, Jonathan; Davidson, Richard J (2012) The persistence of thought: evidence for a role of working memory in the maintenance of task-unrelated thinking. Psychol Sci 23:375-80
Davidson, Richard J; McEwen, Bruce S (2012) Social influences on neuroplasticity: stress and interventions to promote well-being. Nat Neurosci 15:689-95
Perlman, David M; Salomons, Tim V; Davidson, Richard J et al. (2010) Differential effects on pain intensity and unpleasantness of two meditation practices. Emotion 10:65-71

Showing the most recent 10 out of 14 publications