MAP Training

Neuroscientists at Rutgers University have developed a clinical intervention known as MAP Training, which stands for mental and physical training. The intervention is the first of its kind to combine silent meditation with aerobic exercise. The research team is led by Drs. Tracey Shors and Brandon Alderman, and facilitated by Ryan Olson, Michelle Chang, CJ Brush, Emma Millon and others, including Zen monks from Soshimsa Zen Center. Each session of MAP training begins with 20 minutes of silent sitting meditation during which participants learn to follow their breath, followed by 10 minutes of silent walking meditation. The session ends with 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at a moderate intensity. MAP training is provided twice a week for 8 weeks (16 total sessions). Brain health and physical fitness, as well as psychological examinations are given before and after the training program.

We have already completed two clinical studies with MAP training. In the first, MAP Training was provided to students on campus with unipolar depression and otherwise healthy students. After 8 weeks of MAP training, the participants were less depressed. Indeed, scores on Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) decreased 40% in the depressed students! These scores were also significantly decreased in the “healthy” controls. We also documented significant increases in synchronized brain activity during conflict monitoring, a sign of healthy neuronal responses to challenging training conditions. The participants were also less likely to ruminate about the past, a tendency that often occurs in individuals with depression as well as those who have experienced trauma. Together, these data indicate that MAP Training has mind and whole body benefits that translate into an overall increase in health and well-being.

Rutgers Today documented the study in a video, that is uploaded on their YouTube page: