Thomas, JW., Jamieson, G. Cohen, M. (2014) Low and then high frequency oscillations of distinct right cortical networks are successively enhanced by medium and long term Yoga meditation practice. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8:197 doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00197

Abstract

 

Meditation proficiency is related to trait-like (learned) effects on brain function, developed over time. Previous studies show increases in EEG power in lower frequency bands (theta, alpha) in experienced meditators in both meditation states and baseline conditions. Higher gamma band power has been found in advanced Buddhist meditators, yet it is not known if this occurs in Yoga meditation practices. This study used eLORETA to compare differences in cortical source activity underlying scalp EEG from intermediate (mean experience 4 years) and advanced (mean experience 30 years) Australian meditators from the Satyananda Yoga tradition during a body-steadiness meditation, mantra meditation, and non-meditation mental calculation condition. Intermediate Yoga meditators showed greater source activity in low frequencies (particularly theta and alpha1) during mental calculation, body-steadiness and mantra meditation. A similar spatial pattern of significant differences was found in all conditions but the number of significant voxels was double during body-steadiness and mantra meditation than in the non-meditation (calculation) condition. These differences were greatest in right (R) superior frontal and R precentral gyri and extended back to include the R parietal and occipital lobes. Advanced Yoga meditators showed greater activity in high frequencies (beta and especially gamma) in all conditions but greatly expanded during meditation practice. Across all conditions (meditation and non-meditation) differences were greatest in the same regions: R insula, R inferior frontal gyrus and R anterior temporal lobe. Distinct R core networks were identified in alpha1 (8-10 Hz) and gamma (25-42 Hz) bands, respectively. The voxels recruited to these networks greatly expanded during meditation practice to include homologous regions of the left hemisphere. Functional interpretation parallels traditionally described stages of development in Yoga proficiency.