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31-07-2021 | REVIEW | Uitgave 10/2021

Mindfulness 10/2021

The Effects of Mindfulness and Meditation on the Cingulate Cortex in the Healthy Human Brain: A Review

Mindfulness > Uitgave 10/2021
Sara E. Zsadanyi, Florian Kurth, Eileen Luders
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Neuroimaging-based research has revealed varying effects of meditation/mindfulness in sections of the cingulate cortex. However, a formal review of this literature is currently missing.


PubMed and APA PsycINFO databases were searched to identify studies based on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), resting-state fMRI (rs-fMRI), structural MRI (sMRI), and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) that reported effects (or explicitly stated null effects) of meditation/mindfulness in the cingulate.


Of the 49 studies published over the last two decades, the majority were cross-sectional in nature (69%) and employed fMRI (61%). Most studies reported significant effects in the anterior cingulate cortex (55%), followed by the posterior cingulate cortex (49%) and the midcingulate cortex (20%). However, the nature of findings was extremely heterogeneous across studies, possibly due to a substantial variability in terms of study designs, sample sizes, demographics, meditation styles, cingulate subdivisions, and nomenclatures, just to name a few.


Altogether, the outcomes of this review suggest a multifaceted role of the cingulate for processes related to long-term meditation practices, short-term meditation trainings, as well as trait mindfulness.

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