Neural Correlates of Mindfulness Meditation-Related Anxiety Relief.
Social cognitive and affective neuroscience
Opioid-independent mechanisms supporting offset analgesia and temporal sharpening of nociceptive information
2012; 153 (6): 1232-1243
Anxiety is the cognitive state related to the inability to control emotional responses to perceived threats. Anxiety is inversely related to brain activity associated with the cognitive regulation of emotions. Mindfulness meditation has been found to regulate anxiety. However, the brain mechanisms involved in meditation-related anxiety relief are largely unknown. We employed pulsed arterial spin labeling MRI to compare the effects of distraction in the form of attending to the breath (ATB) (before meditation training) to mindfulness meditation (after meditation training) on state anxiety across the same subjects. Fifteen healthy subjects, with no prior meditation experience, participated in 4 d of mindfulness meditation training. ATB did not reduce state anxiety, but state anxiety was significantly reduced in every session that subjects meditated. Meditation-related anxiety relief was associated with activation of the anterior cingulate cortex, ventromedial prefrontal cortex and anterior insula. Meditation-related activation in these regions exhibited a strong relationship to anxiety relief when compared to ATB. During meditation, those who exhibited greater default-related activity (i.e., posterior cingulate cortex) reported greater anxiety, possibly reflecting an inability to control self-referential thoughts. These findings provide evidence that mindfulness meditation attenuates anxiety through mechanisms involved in the regulation of self-referential thought processes.
View details for PubMedID 23615765
Differential effects of experimental central sensitization on the time-course and magnitude of offset analgesia
2012; 153 (2): 463-472
The mechanisms supporting temporal processing of pain remain poorly understood. To determine the involvement of opioid mechanisms in temporal processing of pain, responses to dynamic noxious thermal stimuli and offset analgesia were assessed after administration of naloxone, a ?-opioid antagonist, and on a separate day, during and after intravenous administration of remifentanil, a ?-opioid agonist, in 19 healthy human volunteers. Multiple end points were sampled from real-time computerized visual analog scale ratings (VAS, 1 to 10) to assess thermal sensitivity, magnitude and duration of offset analgesia, and painful after sensations. It was hypothesized that the magnitude of offset analgesia would be reduced by direct opioid antagonism and during states of acute opioid-induced hypersensitivity (OIH), as well as diminished by the presence of exogenous opioids. Surprisingly, the magnitude of offset analgesia was not altered after naloxone administration, during remifentanil infusion, or after the termination of remifentanil infusion. Because thermal hyperalgesia was observed after both drugs, 8 of the original 19 subjects returned for an additional session without drug administration. Thermal hyperalgesia and increased magnitude of offset analgesia were observed across conditions of remifentanil, naloxone, and no drug within this subset analysis, indicating that repeated heat testing induced thermal hyperalgesia, which potentiated the magnitude of offset analgesia. Thus, it is concluded that the mechanisms subserving temporal processing of nociceptive information are largely opioid-independent, but that offset analgesia may be potentiated by heat-induced thermal hyperalgesia in a proportion of individuals.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.pain.2012.02.035
View details for Web of Science ID 000304249100019
View details for PubMedID 22503222
Brain Mechanisms Supporting the Modulation of Pain by Mindfulness Meditation
JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE
2011; 31 (14): 5540-5548
Pain perception is temporally altered during states of chronic pain and acute central sensitization; however, the mechanisms contributing to temporal processing of nociceptive information remain poorly understood. Offset analgesia is a phenomenon that reflects the presence of temporal contrast mechanisms for nociceptive information and can provide an end point to study temporal aspects of pain processing. In order to investigate whether offset analgesia is disrupted during sensitized states, 23 healthy volunteers provided real-time continuous visual analogue scale responses to noxious heat stimuli that evoke offset analgesia. Responses to these stimuli were evaluated during capsaicin-heat sensitization (45°C stimulus, capsaicin cream 0.1%) and heat-only sensitization (40°C stimulus, placebo cream). Capsaicin-heat sensitization produced significantly larger regions of secondary mechanical allodynia compared to heat-only sensitization. Although areas of mechanical allodynia were positively related to individual differences in heat pain sensitivity, this relationship was altered at later time points after capsaicin-heat sensitization. Heat hyperalgesia was observed in the secondary region following both capsaicin-heat and heat-only sensitization. Increased latencies to maximal offset analgesia and prolonged aftersensations were observed only in the primary regions directly treated by capsaicin-heat or heat alone. However, contrary to the hypothesis that offset analgesia would be reduced following capsaicin-heat sensitization, the magnitude of offset analgesia remained remarkably intact after both capsaicin-heat and heat-only sensitization in zones of both primary and secondary mechanical allodynia. These data indicate that offset analgesia is a robust phenomenon and engages mechanisms that interact minimally with those supporting acute central sensitization.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.pain.2011.11.010
View details for Web of Science ID 000299319800029
View details for PubMedID 22154333
Regional Anesthesia Functional Implications Beyond the Anesthetized Nerve
2011; 114 (1): 21-23
The subjective experience of one's environment is constructed by interactions among sensory, cognitive, and affective processes. For centuries, meditation has been thought to influence such processes by enabling a nonevaluative representation of sensory events. To better understand how meditation influences the sensory experience, we used arterial spin labeling functional magnetic resonance imaging to assess the neural mechanisms by which mindfulness meditation influences pain in healthy human participants. After 4 d of mindfulness meditation training, meditating in the presence of noxious stimulation significantly reduced pain unpleasantness by 57% and pain intensity ratings by 40% when compared to rest. A two-factor repeated-measures ANOVA was used to identify interactions between meditation and pain-related brain activation. Meditation reduced pain-related activation of the contralateral primary somatosensory cortex. Multiple regression analysis was used to identify brain regions associated with individual differences in the magnitude of meditation-related pain reductions. Meditation-induced reductions in pain intensity ratings were associated with increased activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and anterior insula, areas involved in the cognitive regulation of nociceptive processing. Reductions in pain unpleasantness ratings were associated with orbitofrontal cortex activation, an area implicated in reframing the contextual evaluation of sensory events. Moreover, reductions in pain unpleasantness also were associated with thalamic deactivation, which may reflect a limbic gating mechanism involved in modifying interactions between afferent input and executive-order brain areas. Together, these data indicate that meditation engages multiple brain mechanisms that alter the construction of the subjectively available pain experience from afferent information.
View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5791-10.2011
View details for Web of Science ID 000289213500040
View details for PubMedID 21471390