Psychophysiology of Meditation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

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Title of host publicationOxford Handbook of Meditation
DateE-pub ahead of print - 8 Oct 2020
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Psychophysiological research on meditation examines modulations in brain and body physiology resulting from, or associated with, meditation. This chapter considers the available evidence regarding the effects of meditation on psychophysiological markers, including frontal electroencephalography (EEG) alpha asymmetry, event-related brain potentials (ERPs), heart-rate variability (HRV) and its derivative indexes, and galvanic skin response (GSR). The emerging mosaic of findings suggests an inconclusive mixed pattern of evidence regarding changes in frontal EEG alpha asymmetry with meditation. The evidence base on ERP changes resulting from meditation is more consistent, particularly pointing to improvements in attention control. However, ERP evidence on modulations in emotion processing, language processing, and existential awareness (such as decentering) with meditation is very limited, not allowing for conclusive answers. Overall, the current evidence on psychophysiological changes with meditation underscores the potential of these methods in providing novel insights into the effects and mechanisms of meditation. More rigorous studies with long-term follow-up, comprehensive systemic assessments, and explorations of convergent/divergent patterns of findings across psychophysiological indexes are needed.

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