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13.04.2015
Just 11 hours of learning a meditation technique induces positive structural changes in brain connectivity by boosting efficiency in a part of the brain that helps a person regulate behavior in accordance with their goals, researchers report. IBMT was adapted from traditional Chinese medicine in the 1990s in China, where it is practiced by thousands of people. A type of magnetic resonance called diffusion tensor imaging allowed researchers to examine fibers connecting brain regions before and after training. In 2007 in PNAS, Tang, a visiting scholar at the UO, and Posner documented that doing IBMT for five days prior to a mental math test led to low levels of the stress hormone cortisol among Chinese students. In 2009 in PNAS, Tang and Chinese colleagues, with assistance from Posner and UO psychology professor Mary K. The latter findings suggested the possibility that additional training might trigger structural changes in the brain, leading to the new research, Tang and Posner said.
Deficits in activation of the anterior cingulate cortex have been associated with attention deficit disorder, dementia, depression, schizophrenia and many other disorders.
In their conclusion, the researchers wrote that the new findings suggest a use of IBMT as a vehicle for understanding how training influences brain plasticity. We will be provided with an authorization token (please note: passwords are not shared with us) and will sync your accounts for you.
Asymmetry in frontal electrical activity has been reported to be associated with positive mood.
Since late 1970s, frontal EEG asymmetry has had widespread use in measuring individual differences in emotional state. However, previous studies have used EEG with low spatial resolution and have not involved an active control group.
Forty right-handed Chinese undergraduates at Dalian University of Technology without any training experience and a history of psychiatric or neurological conditions were recruited. Participants received 30-min of IBMT or relaxation training from Monday through Friday, with a total of 2.5 h training. Single photon emission computed tomography neuroimaging data were acquired on a double head detector of GE HAWK EYE SPECT system (Millenium VG, GE Healthcare) from all participants before and after a 5-days IBMT or relaxation training.
Statistical parametric mapping (SPM1) was applied to evaluate whole brain CBF differences between these two groups. Imaging results showed that two groups did not differ in frontal CBF asymmetry before training (p > 0.05). Consistent with our previous studies, short-term IBMT improves CBF in the midfrontal lobe and insula compared to the relaxation training (Tang et al., 2007, 2009). Our study, using the frontal asymmetry analysis, indicated only a few hours of training increases left-sided CBF asymmetry in both groups but IBMT’s increase is greater than that of relaxation training. The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. One form of meditation intervention, the integrative body-mind training (IBMT) has been shown to improve attention, reduce stress and change self-reports of mood. Forty Chinese undergraduates were randomly assigned to short-term IBMT group or a relaxation training (RT) control group. Our results suggested that emotion-related creativity-promoting mechanism may be attributed to short-term meditation. Forty healthy undergraduates at Dalian University of Technology (DUT) without any meditation or relaxation experiences were recruited. The creativity performance was assessed through TTCT [10], which has been translated into Chinese language and standardized for the usage in China [50]. The raw score (fluency, flexibility, originality) in each activity is converted to T-scores according to a formula in TTCT manual [50].
ANOVA, t tests, linear regression and a cross-lagged panel design were applied for analysis. To examine the homogeneity in TTCT or PANAS between IBMT group and RT group before training, an independent t-test was used to compare the differences between two groups in mean values (TTCT or PANAS). Causal relationships could be inferred by utilizing a cross-lagged panel design, in which variables are collected at least twice [53, 54]. To explore the causal sequence between emotion and creativity for short-term training, the PANAS scores and TTCT scores of the IBMT and RT groups across pre-training and post-training sessions were analyzed with cross-lagged panel correlation. The Cross-Lagged models for exploring the causal sequence between PANAS and TTCT of IBMT group.
The Cross-Lagged models for exploring the causal sequence between PANAS and TTCT of RT group.
To summarize, the cross-lagged analyses indicated that both positive and negative mood changes may contribute to the creativity changes in the short-term IBMT group, but not in the RT group. DiscussionConsistent with our previous research [19], the IBMT group significantly outperformed the RT group in TTCT scores after training. ConclusionsTaken together, these results support our hypothesis that creative performance on the divergent thinking task and emotion were better following IBMT than RT, and meditation with mood regulation effects have potential benefit to levels of creativity. Competing interestsThe authors declare that they have no competing interests.Authors’ contributionsYYT and MIP designed and supervised the study. It is now being taught to undergraduates involved in research on the method at the University of Oregon (UO). The experiments involved the use of brain-imaging equipment in the UO’s Robert and Beverly Lewis Center for Neuroimaging. The changes were strongest in connections involving the anterior cingulate, a brain area related to the ability to regulate emotions and behavior.
The experimental group also showed lower levels of anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue than students in a relaxation control group. Rothbart, found that IBMT subjects in China had increased blood flow in the right anterior cingulate cortex after receiving training for 20 minutes a day over five days. The researchers currently are extending their evaluation to determine if longer exposure to IBMT will produce positive changes in the size of the anterior cingulate. The practice avoids struggles to control thought, relying instead on a state of restful alertness, allowing for a high degree of body-mind awareness while receiving instructions from a coach, who provides breath-adjustment guidance and mental imagery and other techniques while soothing music plays in the background. Christopher Fisher, Managing Editor for The Behavioral Medicine Report, received his PhD in Clinical Health Psychology & Behavioral Medicine from University of North Texas. Fisher maintains a private practice in Corpus Christi, Texas, and offers individual therapy, group therapy, peripheral biofeedback, and neurofeedback. Fisher enjoys spending time with family, watching sports and movies, and outdoor activities. This means that you will not need to remember your user name and password in the future and you will be able to login with the account you choose to sync, with the click of a button. This page doesn't support Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8.Please upgrade your browser or activate Google Chrome Frame to improve your experience.
One form of mindfulness meditation, integrative body-mind training (IBMT) improves positive mood and neuroplasticity. For example, 8-weeks mindfulness-based stress reduction, in comparison to a wait-list control, increased left-sided lateralization of alpha power and decreased negative affect (Davidson et al., 2003). To our knowledge, only one single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging study reported a marginal significant left frontal asymmetry of cerebral blood flow (CBF) but this study involved a sample of 12 long-term meditators compared to normal controls (Newberg et al., 2010) and was not a randomized test with an active control. IBMT involves body relaxation, mental imagery, and mindfulness training, guided by an IBMT coach and compact disk. Participants were instructed to stay in a quiet dark room with eyes closed and ears unoccluded for 10 min, and then they were injected with 25 mCi of 99mTc-ECD. All images were normalized to the SPECT template in SPM, and then 8 mm Gaussian kernel was used to smooth these images. CBF of the prefrontal regions, including inferior, middle, and superior frontal gyrus were extracted. After training, the IBMT group showed significantly better scores in positive and negative affect in comparison with the RT group; IBMT group (not RT) also showed significant post vs. Statistical parametric mapping (SPM) activation results in integrative body-mind training (IBMT) group (after vs. Given the low spatial resolution of EEG, it remains to be elusive whether the brain regions involved in these studies are the same.


However, both IBMT and relaxation training increase frontal asymmetry significantly, although IBMT has a somewhat larger increase. In this paper we examine whether short-term IBMT can improve performance related to creativity and determine the role that mood may play in such improvement. Mood and creativity performance were assessed by the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) and Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) questionnaire respectively.
In addition, cross-lagged analysis indicated that both positive and negative affect may influence creativity in IBMT group (not RT group).
Creativity is essential to the development and advancement of human civilization and plays a crucial role in our cultural life [2]. All items are rated on a Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (very slightly or not at all) to 5 (extremely). The scoring procedure counts the most common responses as 0 and all other legitimate responses as 1.
Each total scale score is the sum of its T-scores in the corresponding scale of the four activities. The training sessions were intended to help each participant to increase the meditation or relaxation experience. And then, we conducted preliminary analyses using a repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVAs) method between groups on each dependent variable (TTCT or PANAS) with time as a factor. The Cross-Lagged models for exploring the causal sequence between PA score and TTCT score (left panel) and between NA score and TTCT score (right panel) of the IBMT group before and after training. The Cross-Lagged models for exploring the causal sequence between PA score and TTCT score (left panel) and between NA score and TTCT score (right panel) of the RT group before and after training. TTCT is used to evaluate creativity through divergent thinking [55], which is a key aspect of creativity and predictor of creative ability [56]. Our study may open up an important avenue for research into the relationships between meditation - emotion - creativity.
The changes were observed only in those who practiced meditation and not in the control group. Compared with the relaxation group, IBMT subjects also had lower heart rates and skin conductance responses, increased belly breathing amplitude and decreased chest respiration rates. Thought control is achieved gradually through posture, relaxation, body-mind harmony and balanced breathing. His clinical training emphasized biopsychosocial approaches to health and wellness, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), neurofeedback, biofeedback, cranial electrical stimulation (CES), and QEEG.
The purpose of this study is to determine whether short-term IBMT improves mood and induces frontal asymmetry.
Another study suggested 5-weeks of meditation shifts EEG asymmetry toward a pattern associated with positive emotion compared to a waiting-list control although there was no significant difference between the two groups (Moyer et al., 2011).
Thus, we set out to apply brain imaging to investigate the CBF asymmetry induced by short-term training in a relatively large sample of 40 undergraduates with a random assignment to IBMT or relaxation training groups.
Cooperation between the body and the mind is emphasized in facilitating and achieving a meditative state.
Two groups’ data were compared using two sample t-test with ANCOVA for removing global effect. Left: significant frontal laterality differences in integrative body-mind training (IBMT) and relaxation groups. In our study both meditation and relaxation resulted in increased left lateralization, but only IBMT changed mood and brain activity in ACC and insula associated with self-control, consistent with our series of research (Tang et al., 2007, 2009, 2010).
The IBMT group has better overall mood state following training, but it is not clear if the brain differences found in this study are the cause of the changes in affect and mood.
Hence, researchers among various disciplines have burgeoning interest in the potential for fostering creativity through education and training.Traditionally, creativity is viewed as a relatively stable individual difference, with some people being regarded as consistently more creative than others [3]. Although PANAS can be administered in terms of varying time frames, subjects responded to PANAS items on basis of to what extent they feel a certain way over the past week.
The creative scalogram in this study consists of two activities (Product Improvement, and Unusual Uses) from TTCT-Verbal and two activities (Picture Completion, and Repeated Figures of Lines) from TTCT-Figural. The originality lists are prepared for each item on basis of normative data, which are readily memorized by scorers.
When statistically significant effects were found, the independent t-test was used to compare differences in mean values of percent changes from pre to post between two groups. First, to assume that a causal model based on crossed-lagged panel correlations is valid, the Csyn and Csta coefficients must be high in magnitude and statistically significant in the non-cross direction [47]. Thus, positive mood changes were not the cause of the creativity changes found in the short-term RT group. We concluded that creative performance on the divergent thinking task was better following IBMT than RT.
The changes in connectivity began after six hours of training and became clear by 11 hours of practice. We hypothesize that IBMT could improve left frontal CBF at resting state, which may underlie the promotion of positive emotion. These results suggested that short-term IBMT induced higher positive mood and lower negative mood states than relaxation training. The IBMT group revealed larger laterality indexes that implied greater left frontal CBF lateralization, compared to relaxation group after training, but the group × session interaction was not significant.
After training a significant between-group differences were observed and IBMT group performed better in mood states than relaxation group. More recently, creativity has been studied as a less stable phenomenon that varies as a function of brief states of the person and situation [2, 4].
Each subscale was rated by a single proficient scorer who was blind to the conditions of the participants. Second, To avoid the two tasks interference, after PANAS, the participants were given around 30-min break including 15-min rest and then 15-min explanation of the following TTCT tasks. The first training day occurred on a different day after finishing the pre-training session. Second, for a pair of variables, A and B, the causal influence from A to B is represented by the standardized regression coefficients of the path from A at time 1 to B at time 2 (Ccl 1–2). The researchers said it is possible the changes resulted from a reorganization of white-matter tracts or by an increase of myelin that surrounds the connections. The results showed that both IBMT and relaxation training increased left laterality of CBF, but only IBMT improved CBF in left ACC and insula, critical brain areas in self-regulation.
However, we did not find a significant difference in the group by time of testing interaction in mood. Issues and assumptions on the road from raw signals to metrics of frontal EEG asymmetry in emotion.
It is possible to measure creativity in a fast way that allows assessment of states induced by training. The study was approved by DUT Institutional Review Board and informed consent was obtained from each participant.
Ten minutes were required to complete each activity to generate as many answers as possible. Firstly, a qualified coach provided participants a free question-and-answer meeting about techniques (IBMT or RT). In a similar manner, the causal influence from B to A is represented by the standardized regression coefficients of the path from B at time 1 to A at time 2 (Ccl 2–1).
PA had a positive cross-lagged impact on TTCT, and that indicated a causal influence from positive mood changes to the creativity changes in IBMT group. Fisher also received a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Texas A&M - Corpus Christi.
Relaxation training involves the relaxing of different muscle groups over the face, head, shoulders, arms, legs, chest, back, and abdomen, etc., guided by a tutor and compact disk.
Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders.
As one of the most widely used test of creativity, Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) is easy to administrate in short time [5, 6].


The consent form explained that participants would complete the PANAS [44] to measure mood state, and the TTCT [10] to assess performance of creativity.
Secondly, after ensuring the clear grasp of techniques for the novices, the coach guided participants to practice instructions on a compact disc in a harmonious and relaxed atmosphere. Thus, under the usual assumptions governing regression analysis, a nonzero value of a relevant parameter is indicative of a significant causal effect [48]. In addition, Figure 5 (right panel) shows the Ccls between NA and TTCT in the IBMT group. Thus, negative mood changes were not the cause of the creativity changes found in the short-term RT group. With eyes closed and in a sequential pattern, one is forced to concentrate on the sensation of relaxation such as the feelings of warmth and heaviness. These findings could also be due to power considerations and sensitivity of imaging techniques (Gatzke-Kopp et al., 2001), but with 20 participants per group our study has a larger number than most imaging studies.
It has fewer limitations and cautions to apply, and is more researched and analyzed than any other creativity instrument [6, 7]. These results indicated that short-term IBMT can yield a better creative performance than short-term RT. These results manifested that the short-term IBMT induced lower negative mood states than the short-term RT.
This progressive training helps the participant achieve physical and mental relaxation and calmness (Tang et al., 2007, 2010). Many studies examined the predictive validity of the TTCT including elementary education majors, seventh-grade students, and economically disadvantaged elementary school Black children, which increased the TTCT’s credibility as a predictor of creative productivity [8].
Thus, the results are consistent with our hypotheses that the IBMT group improved emotional regulation, whereas RT group did not.Moreover, we hypothesized that emotional improvement may be one way that TTCT scores are changed in short-term meditation. A series of follow-up studies at the range from 7- to 22-year interval found that three of the TTCT subscales (fluency, flexibility and originality) correlated significantly (at the .01 level) with creative achievements [9–11]. The RT group concentrated on the relaxing of different muscle groups and the corresponding feelings of warmth and heaviness. Our results revealed that the cross-lagged analysis documented PA and NA as an antecedent of creativity in the IBMT group. Frontal electroencephalographic asymmetry associated with positive emotion is produced by very brief meditation training. Moreover, many reanalysis studies of Torrance’s data concluded that the Creative Indexes (fluency, flexibility, and originality) are the best predictors for adult creative achievement [12, 13].The popularity of meditation in the West has led research into its influence on creativity [14]. During the practice, the coach observed facial and body cues and gave proper feedback immediately to those who were struggling with the method. NA had a negative cross-lagged impact on TTCT, and that indicated a causal influence from negative mood changes to the creativity changes in the IBMT group. The standardized regression coefficients of the path from before-training PA (or NA) to after-training TTCT was significant, while the standardized regression coefficients of the path from after-training PA (or NA) to before-training TTCT was marginally significant. Previous studies showed that long-term (over years) meditation training enhances creativity as assessed by TTCT [15, 16].
Thirdly, thirty minutes later, each participant filled out a questionnaire and evaluated the practice. For example, open-monitoring meditation, in which an individual is open to perceive and observe any sensation, promotes divergent thinking, a style of thinking that allows many new ideas to be generated [16]. Some recent research showed that short-term meditation has fostering effects on creative thinking. However, emotion is associated with these cognitive processes that contribute to the complex of creativity [21, 22, 25, 26]. For example, maintaining a mindful and alert state during meditation results in more insight [17]. One mood theory is that PA promotes a more global scope of attention [60, 61], enhancing access to distant or unusual associations [62, 63], which facilitates creative solutions to classic creative problems such as improving performance [64] on the Remote Associates Test [65]. In addition, Zen practitioners who meditated in the laboratory performed better on the creative test than Zen practitioners who did not meditate [18]. Another mood theory is that PA enhances switching between global and local attention modes [66] or between strategies [67], or in other words that it enhances selection of different perspectives [27]. In contrast, NA states such as anxiety and depression are associated with deficits in attentional and cognitive control mechanisms [68, 69], often inducing a narrow scope of attention [70]. Although studies have shown the positive effect of meditation on creativity, the cognitive mechanisms are largely unknown [20].Mood represents a transient state that has attracted a great deal of attention as a potential facilitator of creativity [21–23]. Positive affect (PA) produces more fluent and original responses [21, 22, 24], while negative affect (NA) has the opposite effect [25, 26]. For example, PA leads to greater cognitive flexibility and facilitates creative problem solving across a broad range of settings [27]. PA increases creative performance and implementation efficiency, while NA has no effect [28].
In addition, a study with 256 undergraduates shows that PA tends to be induced to create and use categories more inclusively than NA [26]. PA biases cognitive control mechanisms in ways that facilitate creativity [29] and borderline effects of NA on categorization might result from normal people’s attempts to cope with NA [26].
Hence, previous studies lead some researchers to conclude that PA promotes fluent and original thinking [21, 22, 24, 30], while NA has the opposite effect [25, 26].Meditation is associated with greater emotion regulation [31–33]. For example, 5 days of IBMT has been shown to improve mood and cognitive processes [34]. Four days of mindfulness meditation is effective at reducing anxiety scores and other cognitive manipulations [35].
A similar training regimen improves mood when compared to a sham meditation and control group [28]. Further, four meditation sessions resulted in greater improvements in mood than participants in a sham condition [36]. Other studies showed improvements in mood after brief and single instruction in mindfulness [31, 32].In summary, meditation is associated with enhancing the ability to self-regulate emotions, which has been found to be a key component in cognition [37, 38], including creativity [21–23]. In the integrative reviews of creativity studies, it is proposed that PA fosters creativity fluency and originality because of enhanced cognitive flexibility, which may make more diverse connections among ideas, as well as perceive more differences among the items or content, with NA having the opposite effect [22, 25]. Therefore, it is possible that short-term meditation increases capacity to self-regulate emotions and thus improves creative performance.The present study focuses on the cognitive mechanism of meditation on creativity.
Short-term IBMT, adopted from traditional Chinese medicine and incorporating the key components of meditation training, was used as a meditation intervention.
Instead of using effort to control thoughts, IBMT is designed to facilitate the achievement of a meditative state with a balance and optimization between mind and body [34, 39], and further maintain this state to regulate emotion [40].
On the other hand, relaxation training (RT) involves relaxing different muscle groups from the head to abdomen and forces one to concentrate on the feelings of warmth and heaviness [41].
This progressive muscle training helps a participant achieve physical (body) and mental (mind) relaxation and calmness [34, 41–43]. Since both RT and IBMT emphasize achieving their desired states through regulating the body and the mind, RT matches IBMT in the training, and thus we chose RT as an active control condition. We used the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) [44] to measures PA and NA, and the TTCT [10] to assess performance of creativity.
PANAS and TTCT were measured before and after training to compare the training effects between IBMT and RT. In addition, the reciprocal cross-lagged effects of PANAS (PA and NA) and TTCT were examined before and after IBMT. Cross-lagged analysis is widely recommended for addressing the issue of temporal precedence [45–48].
It helps to test whether the IBMT-regulated emotion has a causal effect on creativity and to rule out alternative causal hypotheses.Taken together, we hypothesize that compared to RT (i) IBMT will produce greater creativity (indexed by TTCT) (ii) IBMT will improve emotion (indexed by PANAS scales) and (iii) this improved emotion may mediate the change in creativity.



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