...A cognitive mechanism that is thought to be unique to mindfulness is the combination of increased attention and reduced negative evaluation...the key to reported analgesic effects of meditation training might be the co-occurring reduction in emotional and evaluative responses. Thus it is noteworthy that [several experiments] found activation patterns in regions associated with downregulation of negative affective responses, and functional decoupling of dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex and cingulate...attributed to dissociation between attention to pain and evaluation of pain. Zeidan and colleagues noted an inverse correlation between OFC activation and unpleasantness ratings, which was attributed to altered processing of reward and hedonic experiences. The degree of concordance between these studies suggests that meditative practices may indeed reduce pain through a unique neural mechanism, one corresponding to increased attention and reduced evaluative/emotional responses.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Neural correlates of pain reduction through meditation
Salomons and Kucyi present a nice review of experiments examining meditation and pain reduction (PDF here).