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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 38  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 108-112

Changes in functional magnetic resonance imaging with Yogic meditation: A pilot study

1 Department of Neurology, USC Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California, USA
2 Department of Neurology, Olive View–UCLA Medical Centre, Sylmar, Los Angeles, California, USA
3 Department of Neurology, Harbor–UCLA Medical Centre, Los Angeles, California, USA

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Shri K Mishra
16111 Plummer Street, North Hills, California
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ayu.AYU_34_17

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Background: The neural substrates of Yogic meditation are not well understood. Meditation is theorized to be a conscious mental process that induces a set of complex physiological changes within the areas of the brain termed as the “relaxation response.” Aims and objective: Pilot data of a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study is presented to observe and understand the selective activations of designated brain regions during meditation. Material and methods: Four trained healthy Patanjali Yoga practitioners in their mid-60s participated in this prototype interventional study. A three-part 1-min block design alternating between meditation (test) and relaxation (control) phase with an imaginary visual fixation and auditory stimulation was used. Result and observation: The fMRI images revealed strong activation in the right prefrontal regions during the visual and auditory fixation meditation phases compared to no activations during the relaxation phase. A comparison between the visual and auditory fixations revealed shifts within the prefrontal and temporal regions. In addition, activation in occipital and temporal regions was observed during the meditation phase. Occipital lobe activation was more apparent during visual meditation phase. Conclusion: It is concluded that specific fMRI brain activations are observed during different forms of Yogic meditation (visual and auditory phases). Occipital and prefrontal activation could be modulating the known neurophysiological and biological effects of meditation.

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