Influence of Long-Term Sahaja Yoga Meditation Practice on Emotional Processing in the Brain: An ERP Study

N V Reva 1 , S V Pavlov 2 , K V Loktev 2 , V V Korenyok 2 , L I Aftanas 2
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PMID: 25281881 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2014.09.053


Despite growing interest in meditation as a tool for alternative therapy of stress-related and psychosomatic diseases, brain mechanisms of beneficial influences of meditation practice on health and quality of life are still unclear. We propose that the key point is a persistent change in emotional functioning, specifically the modulation of the early appraisal of motivational significance of events. The main aim was to study the effects of long-term meditation practice on event-related brain potentials (ERPs) during affective picture viewing. ERPs were recorded in 20 long-term Sahaja Yoga meditators and 20 control subjects without prior experience in meditation. The meditators’ mid-latency (140-400ms) ERPs were attenuated for both positive and negative pictures (i.e. there were no arousal-related increases in ERP positivity) and this effect was more prominent over the right hemisphere. However, we found no differences in the long latency (400-800ms) responses to emotional images, associated with meditation practice. In addition we found stronger ERP negativity in the time window 200-300ms for meditators compared to the controls, regardless of picture valence. We assume that long-term meditation practice enhances frontal top-down control over fast automatic salience detection, based on amygdala functions.

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

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