Regulation of perceptual learning by mindfulness meditation : experiential and neurophysiological evidence

Abstract : Due to its widespread implementation in clinical settings, the neuroscientific study of mindfulness meditation has seen a rapid growth in the last two decades. Despite the evidence of changes in brain activity and structures, the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying meditation practices are largely unknown. In this work, we investigated the hypothesis that mindfulness meditation entails a cognitive stance towards experience which impacts the formation of mental habits. With this aim, we studied the relationship between the phenomenology of different styles of mindfulness meditation, in expert and novice practitioners, and neurophysiological markers of perceptual learning (i.e. auditory mismatch negativity) and attention in neutral and emotional settings. We found that a nondual style of mindfulness meditation increased sensory monitoring and reduced perceptual learning compared to a focused attention practice. Additionally, we demonstrated that auditory perceptual learning is not affected by unpredictable threat, except for individuals with high dispositional anxiety; an effect that might be downregulated by meditation states. Finally, we identified components of the auditory evoked response as putative neural correlates of monitoring processes during mindfulness practices and we highlighted a direct link between changes in subjective experience and emotion regulation in expert practitioners.Overall, the present work fosters the dialogue between cognitive neuroscience and phenomenological models of meditation and provides evidence of the possible neurocognitive mechanisms underlying meditation practices and expertise
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Enrico Fucci. Regulation of perceptual learning by mindfulness meditation : experiential and neurophysiological evidence. Neuroscience. Université de Lyon, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018LYSE1266⟩. ⟨tel-02269107⟩

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