Brain Imaging Technology to Examine the Effects of Meditation

This study has been completed.
Information provided by:
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) Identifier:
First received: April 30, 2004
Last updated: August 3, 2006
Last verified: August 2006
The purpose of this study is to use brain imaging technology to identify the parts of the brain that are activated during meditation and to compare these parts to those activated during other activities. This study will also determine the effects of meditation on involuntary functions, such as breathing.

Condition Intervention
Behavioral: Meditation
Procedure: Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Study Type: Observational
Study Design: Observational Model: Defined Population
Time Perspective: Cross-Sectional
Official Title: fMRI Investigation of Meditation

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH):

Estimated Enrollment: 60
Study Start Date: July 2001
Estimated Study Completion Date: June 2005
Detailed Description:

Meditation and relaxation-based interventions are becoming more widely accepted in clinical settings because of their low cost, low risk, and proven effectiveness as a complementary intervention in a wide range of diseases. Despite the success and growing use of relaxation-based treatments, few studies have addressed the basic mechanism by which these treatments work. This study will use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to define the brain mechanisms underlying the meditative state, to differentiate this state from other states, and to determine how meditation-induced brain changes affect autonomic function.

Participants in this study will have an fMRI brain scan. Brain activity, breathing rate, and heart rate will be measured while the participant engages in three different activities: lying quietly, meditating, and mentally generating numbers.


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 50 Years
Genders Eligible for Study:   Both
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Daily practice of Vipassana or Kundalini meditation for at least 1 year and participation in at least one 1-week meditation retreat

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Current medical or psychological illness
  • Use of antidepressants, antianxiolytics, or compounds that alter cerebral blood flow
  • Claustrophobia
  • Pregnancy
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00082160

United States, Massachusetts
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, Massachusetts, United States, 02129
Sponsors and Collaborators
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
Principal Investigator: Sara Lazar, PhD Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Psychiatry
  More Information

Additional Information: Identifier: NCT00082160     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: K01AT000694-01 
Study First Received: April 30, 2004
Last Updated: August 3, 2006
Health Authority: United States: Federal Government

Keywords provided by National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH):
Relaxation processed this record on May 22, 2016