Mindfulness meditation has become a promising intervention for promoting health and well-being. Neuroimaging studies have shown its beneficial effects on brain functional activity, connectivity, and structures following months to years of practice. A series of randomized controlled trials indicated that one form of mindfulness meditation, the integrative body-mind training (IBMT) induces brain functional and structural changes in brain regions related to self-control networks such as the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) after 2–10h of practice. However, whether IBMT could change brain metabolism in the ACC remains unexplored. Utilizing a noninvasive 3T proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy, our results showed a significant increase in glutamate metabolism in the rostral ACC following 10h of IBMT, suggesting that brief training not only increases ACC activity and structure, but also induces neurochemical changes in regions of the self-control networks. To our knowledge, this is the first study demonstrating the positive effects on brain metabolism in the ACC following brief intervention, suggesting a potential mechanism and implications of mindfulness meditation in ameliorating disorders such as addiction, depression and schizophrenia, which often involve the dysfunction of self-control networks and glutamatergic system (i.e. lower glutamate metabolism).
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