2. Mind Body Neuroimaging
Mind Body Neuroimaging Research is under the direction of Allan George Bush, MD, MMSc, a neuroimager renowned for his functional MRI work on the paralimbic cortex. This area of the brain is most important for the purposes of mind body research because modern stress is often the result of conflicted decision-making in the face of dissonant cognitive and emotional signals that converge on the anterior cingulate, which is charged with the response selection function. Another part of the paralimbic cortex, the insula, is engaged in modulating the messages of stress between the viscera and the brain. Dr. Bush is researching brain activation changes with subjects who are challenged with response selection using the Bush Multi-system Interference Task pre- and post- 8 weeks of RR training. Given his ADHD neuroimaging expertise, he plans to study the brain activation patterns of adults with ADHD pre and post our mind body intervention to determine whether this adjunctive approach might benefit them. In an exciting future project, fMRI will be utilized to investigate how subjects make prosocial altruistic decisions and if our interventions, which have been shown to increase spiritual growth, can enhance that capacity.
Sara Lazar, PhD, another neuroimager working in this core area at BHI, was the lead investigator in 2 reports on the neuroimaging of meditation that have appeared in the journal Neuroreport. One was the first fMRI study done on meditators and showed that the reward and motivation areas of the brain were activated. The second study showed that the right insular cortex and the right prefrontal cortex were thickened in experienced meditators suggesting a practice effect on important brain structures. Currently at BHI, in an NIH funded project, Dr Lazar is collaborating with the UMass Center for Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction to compare the brain activation patterns produced by RR with the brain activation produced by mindfulness based stress reduction.