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Mind-Body Practices - Articles

The following are a set of curated scientific articles that pertain to stress reduction, or eliciting the “relaxation response” in one form or another, through mind-body practices, such as meditation, yoga, etc. It is remarkable, and a testament to these practices, that some studies even show changes in neuroanatomy. The hyperlinks will take you to PubMed where the original article can be accessed in more depth and often printed out, if necessary.

Genomic Counter-Stress Changes Induced by the Relaxation Response

This study provides the first compelling evidence that the RR (relaxation response) elicits specific gene expression changes in short-term and long-term practitioners.

Meditation experience is associated with differences in default mode network activity and connectivity

Our findings demonstrate differences in the default-mode network that are consistent with decreased mind-wandering. As such, these provide a unique understanding of possible neural mechanisms of meditation.

Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness

These data provide the first structural evidence for experience-dependent cortical plasticity associated with meditation practice.

Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training

Our findings suggest that 4 days of meditation training can enhance the ability to sustain attention; benefits that have previously been reported with long-term meditators.

Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density

The results suggest that participation in MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) is associated with changes in gray matter concentration in brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.

Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery and Supportive- Expressive Therapy Maintain Telomere Length Relative to Controls in Distressed Breast Cancer Survivors

Psychosocial interventions providing stress reduction and emotional support resulted in trends toward TL (telomere length) maintenance in distressed breast cancer survivors, compared with decreases in usual care.

Relaxation Response Induces Temporal Transcriptome Changes in Energy Metabolism, Insulin Secretion and Inflammatory Pathways

Our results for the first time indicate that RR elicitation, particularly after long-term practice, may evoke its downstream health benefits by improving mitochondrial energy production and utilization and thus promoting mitochondrial resiliency through upregulation of ATPase and insulin function. Mitochondrial resiliency might also be promoted by RR-induced downregulation of NF-κB-associated upstream and downstream targets that mitigates stress.

Yoga, Meditation and Mind-Body Health: Increased BDNF, Cortisol Awakening Response, and Altered Inflammatory Marker Expression after a 3-Month Yoga and Meditation Retreat

We hypothesize that the patterns of change observed here reflect mind-body integration and well-being. The increased BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) levels observed is a potential mediator between meditative practices and brain health, the increased CAR (cortisol awakening response) is likely a reflection of increased dynamic physiological arousal, and the relationship of the dual enhancement of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine changes to healthy immunologic functioning is discussed.

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