The neural and psychological mechanisms of yoga and mindfulness meditation

T. Gard

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisInternal

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This dissertation examines the neural mechanisms activated during yoga and mindfulness meditation, with an emphasis on pain processing and ageing.
A functional MRI (fMRI) study revealed that experienced meditators did not experience less pain while in a state of mindfulness, but that they perceived this pain to be less unpleasant. This was due to a unique mechanism of increased activity in the sensory areas of the brain and decreased activity in the areas that regulate cognition.
An fMRI study among elderly participants revealed that the general, functional brain networks of yoga and mindfulness practitioners were more efficiently and more broadly organised than that of the control group. There was a positive correlation between mindfulness and intelligence, as well as between network integration and network resistance, which seems to play a role in maintaining cognition and brain function.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Maastricht University
  • Sack, Alexander, Supervisor
  • Goebel, Rainer, Supervisor
  • Hölzel, B.K., Co-Supervisor, External person
Award date20 Mar 2015
Place of PublicationMaastricht
Print ISBNs9789082344004
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • brain
  • yoga
  • mindfulness meditation


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