Studies provide evidence that practicing meditation enhances neural plasticity in reward processing areas of brain. No studies till date, provide evidence of such changes in Rajyoga meditation (RM) practitioners. The present study aimed to identify grey matter volume (GMV) changes in reward processing areas of brain and its association with happiness scores in RM practitioners compared to non-meditators. Structural MRI of selected participants matched for age, gender and handedness (n = 40/group) were analyzed using voxel-based morphometric method and Oxford Happiness Questionnaire (OHQ) scores were correlated. Significant increase in OHQ happiness scores were observed in RM practitioners compared to non-meditators. Whereas, a trend towards significance was observed in more experienced RM practitioners, on correlating OHQ scores with hours of meditation experience. Additionally, in RM practitioners, higher GMV were observed in reward processing centers—right superior frontal gyrus, left inferior orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and bilateral precuneus. Multiple regression analysis showed significant association between OHQ scores of RM practitioners and reward processing regions right superior frontal gyrus, left middle OFC, right insula and left anterior cingulate cortex. Further, with increasing hours of RM practice, a significant positive association was observed in bilateral ventral pallidum. These findings indicate that RM practice enhances GMV in reward processing regions associated with happiness.
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