Changes in the brain
Mindfulness meditation also appears to bring about favorable structural changes in the brain. One recent study found a significant cortical thickness increase in individuals who underwent a brief -8 weeks- MBSR training program and that this increase was coupled with a significant reduction of several psychological indices related to worry, state anxiety, depression. Another study describes how mindfulness based interventions target neurocognitive mechanisms of addiction at the attention-appraisal-emotion interface. A meta-analysis by Fox et al. (2014) using results from 21 brain imaging studies found consistent differences in the region of the prefronal cortex and other brain regions associated with body awareness. In terms of effect size the mean effect was rated as moderate. (Cohen’s d = 0.46) However the results should be interpreted with caution because funnel plots indicate that publication bias is an issue in meditation research. A follow up by Fox et al. (2016) using 78 functional neuro-imaging studies suggests that different meditation styles are reliably associated with different brain activity. Activations in some brain regions are usually accompanied by deactivation in others. This finding suggests that meditation research must put emphasis on comparing practices from the same style of meditation, for example results from studies investigating focused attention methods cannot be compared to results from open monitoring approaches.
A 6-week mindfulness based intervention was found to correlate with a significant gray matter increase within the precuneus. Interestingly a positive relationship has been found between the volume of gray matter in the right precuneus and the subject’s subjective happiness score.
Attention and mindfulness
Attention networks and mindfulness meditation
Psychological and Buddhists conceptualisations of mindfulness both highlight awareness and attention training as key components, in which levels of mindfulness can be cultivated with practise of mindfulness meditation. Focused attention meditation and open monitoring meditation are distinct types of mindfulness meditation, and the former relates to directing and maintaining attention on a chosen object (e.g. the breath). Open monitoring meditation does not involve focus on a specific object, and instead awareness is grounded in the perceptual features of one’s environment.
Focused attention meditation is typically practiced first to increase the ability to enhance attentional stability, and awareness of mental states with the goal being to transition to open monitoring meditation practise that emphasizes the ability to monitor moment by moment changes in experience, without a focus of attention to maintain. Mindfulness meditation may lead to greater cognitive flexibility 
Post time: Jun-21-2017