Abstract ID: 1119

Primary Topic: Mind-body (including meditation and yoga)
Secondary Topic: Basic Science

Genomic, Neural, and Allostatic Assessments Reveal Similarities and Differences Among Mind-Body Interventions
Sara Lazar, PhD, , Charlestown, MA, United States; John Denninger, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, United States; Elizabeth Hoge, MD, , Washington DC, DC, United States; Manoj Bhasin, PhD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA, United States

Late Breaker: No


Little is known about how mind-body approaches differ in terms of mechanisms of action. Combining experimental methodologies can reveal commonalities and differences that have implications both for understanding the approaches themselves and for designing studies to test them. The four speakers are collaborating on an RCT (n=211 healthy but stressed adults) that compares the mechanistic basis of a yoga-based, a meditation-based, and an attention control education-based program. Using the results of this study as a use case, presenters will discuss the mechanistic and study-design implications for mind-body interventions.


Growing evidence suggests that mind-body programs may utilize different mechanisms of action. These differences may have profound implications for choosing the right methodologies to test treatments and, ultimately, selecting the right treatments for our patients.


Participants will be able to 1) explain how combining methodologies can reveal commonalities and differences among mind-body programs, 2) compare the underlying mechanisms of yoga and meditation, and 3) describe the broader mechanistic and study-design implications for mind-body programs.

Methods/Session Format

Each presenter will speak for 10-20 minutes (depending on the amount of time allotted); the remaining time will be used for Q&A.


The first speaker will frame the general problem of choosing the best outcome measures for mind-body medicine studies and discuss the rationale, design, and psychological findings of the RCT. The second speaker will discuss findings from the allostatic load data, a composite measure used to assess the effects of stress on multiple systems. The third speaker will present findings on genomic and epigenomic changes in response to the three programs and, combining these with findings from studies of massage and exercise, will discuss pathways that change exclusively in mind-body programs. The fourth speaker will discuss changes in neural structure and function associated with each program, as well as changes associated with two other mind-body programs. The speakers will also discuss the relationship between the measures, and the power of integrating them for investigating mind-body interventions.