J Korean Soc Biol Ther Psychiatry.  2019 Jun;25(2):85-94. 10.0000/jksbtp.2019.25.2.85.

Mechanism of Mindfulness-Based Intervention and Neurobiological Basis

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Yeungnam University College of Medicine, Yeungnam University Medical Center, Daegu, Korea. bear8553@naver.com


Mindfulness is a process in which all thoughts, feelings, sensations, and all phenomena that happen to me are uncritically recognized as they are, so that they are eventually accepted and released without identifying or automatically responding to them. The clinical effects of mindfulness-based therapy have already been demonstrated in several studies. However, consistent results have not been reported for the mechanism of mindfulness-based treatment. Thus, this review aimed to describe a systematic review of the literature and research on the mechanisms of mindfulness-based interventions. Experienced meditators showed a physiological change in a ‘wakeful hypometabolic state’ during mindfulness meditation. In mindfulness meditation, it is known that certain areas other than brain activation during relaxation are additionally activated, particularly activation of fronto-limbic and fronto-parietal neural networks. The psychological mechanisms include meta-cognitive awareness, emotion regulation, reduction of automatic and self-referential thinking, concentration control, self-compassion, improvement of value clarification and self-regulation, exposure, extinction, and reconsolidation. Of the brain regions with changes in activity associated with mindfulness meditation, prefrontal cortex, the default mode network including cortical midline structures were associated with emotion regulation, concentration control, and reduction of automatic and self-referential thinking. In addition, brain regions associated with mindfulness meditation have been reported in the hippocampus, amygdala, and medical frontal cortices associated with memory reconsolidation and fear extinction. Thus, mindfulness-based interventions have a psychological and neurobiological effect with a special mechanism different from other psychological interventions, so that mindfulness based intervention can be an effective therapeutic intervention with a different mechanism from other psychological techniques.


Mindfulness; Meditation
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