Dr. Davidson will present an overview of studies conducted in his laboratory on neural changes associated with various forms of meditation. Distinctions among three major forms of meditation practice will be made: focused attention, open monitoring, and positive affect training. Each of these forms of meditation have different neural and behavioral effects. From the perspective of Western neuroscience, different forms of meditation can be conceptualized as mental training to promote the regulation of emotion and attention. Data from studies on long-term meditation practitioners as well as those with shorter durations of training will be highlighted.
Dr. Davidson will also review some longitudinal studies that track changes over time with meditation practice. In addition to the neural changes that have been observed, he will summarize changes that have been found in peripheral biology that may modulate physical health and illness. The central brain circuitry of emotion is especially implicated in peripheral biological changes that have consequences for health. The overall conclusions from these studies is that one can transform the mind through meditation and thereby alter the brain and the periphery in ways that may be beneficial for mental and physical health, and for well-being.