Series: ACTSI Investigators and ARRA Awards at Work

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the NIH provided stimulus grants which will lead to new discoveries, create new jobs, and provide additional educational opportunities for students. Over the next few weeks the eRoundup will review some of the ACTSI's ARRA projects.

Effects of Meditation on the Structure and Functioning of the Brain, Charles L. Raison, MD, Emory University

Researchers in the Mind-Body Program in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Emory-Tibet Partnership are collaborating with neuroscientists at Boston University and Harvard University to study the effects of meditation on the structure and functioning of the brain. These investigations are being supported by a challenge grant awarded to Eric Schwartz, PhD, at Boston University through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). This challenge grant will provide funding to fly subjects in an ongoing meditation study at Emory University (Mechanisms of Meditation [R01AT004698-01]) up to Boston both prior to and upon completion of eight weeks of training in compassion meditation, mindfulness meditation, or attendance in a health discussion group control condition. Emory has received a sub award under the challenge grant as the primary site of recruitment and study implementation. As a result of this novel collaboration, ARRA funding will allow for the first study ever conducted using a longitudinal design to closely examine whether different types of meditation practices have unique or overlapping effects on central nervous system function and structure. Under the Aegis of this challenge grant, Emory researchers are also collaborating with Dr. Schwartz and his team on the use of novel spinal fMRI methodologies to examine the effects of an advanced form of Tibetan Buddhist meditation called tummo. Charles L. Raison, MD, serves as principal investigator for the Emory sub award. Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, PhD, Director of the Emory-Tibet Partnership, serves as contemplative PI on all Mind-Body Program meditation studies.