Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation

RICHARD J. DAVIDSON, PHD, JON KABAT-ZINN, PHD, JESSICA SCHUMACHER, MS, MELISSA ROSENKRANZ, BA, DANIEL MULLER, MD, PHD, SAKI F. SANTORELLI, EDD, FERRIS URBANOWSKI, MA, ANNE HARRINGTON, PHD, KATHERINE BONUS, MA, AND JOHN F. SHERIDAN, PHD

Objective

The underlying changes in biological processes that are associated with reported changes in mental and physical health
in response to meditation have not been systematically explored. We performed a randomized, controlled study on the effects on
brain and immune function of a well-known and widely used 8-week clinical training program in mindfulness meditation applied
in a work environment with healthy employees. Methods: We measured brain electrical activity before and immediately after, and
then 4 months after an 8-week training program in mindfulness meditation. Twenty-five subjects were tested in the meditation
group. A wait-list control group (N 16) was tested at the same points in time as the meditators. At the end of the 8-week period,
subjects in both groups were vaccinated with influenza vaccine. Results: We report for the first time significant increases in

left-sided anterior activation, a pattern previously associated with positive affect, in the meditators compared with the nonmedi-
tators. We also found significant increases in antibody titers to influenza vaccine among subjects in the meditation compared with

those in the wait-list control group. Finally, the magnitude of increase in left-sided activation predicted the magnitude of antibody
titer rise to the vaccine. Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that a short program in mindfulness meditation produces
demonstrable effects on brain and immune function. These findings suggest that meditation may change brain and immune function
in positive ways and underscore the need for additional research. Key words: meditation, mindfulness, EEG, immune function,
brain asymmetry, influenza vaccine

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