Impact of Long-Term Meditation Practice on Cardiovascular Reactivity During Perception and Reappraisal of Affective Images

Sergei V Pavlov 1 , Natalia V Reva 2 , Konstantin V Loktev 3 , Vladimir V Korenyok 4 , Lyubomir I Aftanas 5
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PMID: 25583571 DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2015.01.002


Meditation has been found to be an efficient strategy for coping with stress in healthy individuals and in patients with psychosomatic disorders. The main objective of the present study was to investigate the psychophysiological mechanisms of beneficial effects of meditation on cardiovascular reactivity. We examined effects of long-term Sahaja Yoga meditation on cardiovascular reactivity during affective image processing under “unregulated” and “emotion regulation” conditions. Twenty two experienced meditators and 20 control subjects participated in the study. Under “unregulated” conditions participants were shown neutral and affective images and were asked to attend to them. Under “emotion regulation” conditions they down-regulated negative affect through reappraisal of negative images or up-regulated positive affect through reappraisal of positive images. Under “unregulated” conditions while anticipating upcoming images meditators vs. controls did not show larger pre-stimulus total peripheral resistance and greater cardiac output for negative images in comparison with neutral and positive ones. Control subjects showed TPR decrease for negative images only when they consciously intended to reappraise them (i.e. in the “emotion regulation” condition). Both meditators and controls showed comparable cardiovascular reactivity during perception of positive stimuli, whereas up-regulating of positive affect was associated with more pronounced cardiac activation in meditators. The findings provide some insight into understanding the beneficial influence of meditation on top-down control of emotion and cardiovascular reactivity.

Source: National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information,

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