Over 2 decades scientists have been studying the effect on brain function from meditation
practices. The purpose of this study is to measure the effect of a meditation retreat
program on serotonin and dopamine transporter binding and changes in cerebral blood flow.
The retreat program that will be followed is a weeklong retreat called the Ignatian Retreat.
This study will utilize DaTscan single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and
functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in healthy subjects within one month of
entering the retreat. The study uses DaTscan to measure the effect on serotonin and dopamine
transporter binding, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure the effect
on cerebral blood flow. The Ignatian Retreat is a weeklong retreat which involves meditation
Additionally, study participants will complete a variety of questionnaires and scales to
measure psychological and spirituality states. The scans and questionnaires will be
completed before and after the participant has completed the retreat. The ultimate goal of
the study is to analyze and compare pre and post imaging and neuropsychological and
spirituality changes in healthy controls who participate in this retreat.
- Able to give informed consent and willing to complete the study.
- Willing to undergo the full imaging procedures.
- Women of childbearing potential with a negative serum pregnancy test.
- Any neurological or psychiatric disorders, including drug or alcohol abuse, that may
interfere with cerebral blood flow as determined by the principal investigator.
- Any medical conditions that may interfere with cerebral blood flow as determined by
the principal investigator.
- Currently taking medication that might affect cerebral blood flow (i.e.
antidepressants, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, benzodiazepines, sedatives, antiseizure
- Subject is unable or unwilling to lie still in the scanner (i.e. due to
claustrophobia or weight > 350 pounds)
- Subject has metal in their body or other reason that they cannot undergo magnetic
- Previous brain surgery or intracranial abnormalities they may complicate
interpretation of the brain scans. (e.g. stroke, tumor, vascular abnormality).
- Allergy to iodine or shellfish.
- Concurrent participation in another research protocol that might affect the outcome
of this study as determined by the principle Investigator.