Background and Overview
Since 2006 the goal of Dr. Matthew D. Sacchet’s research has been to advance a scientific understanding of meditation toward improving individual well-being and the collective health of society. To pursue this objective, Dr. Sacchet (pronounced "suh-ket") previously trained and/or held research positions at Brown University and Brown University Medical School, the Martinos and Osher Research Centers at Massachusetts General Hospital, the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Center for Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Research at McLean Hospital, the Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology at the University of Tübingen, and Stanford University and Stanford University School of Medicine. In 2019 Dr. Sacchet joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School and in 2022 he founded and now directs the Meditation Research Program within the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. The department is exceptional across domains of care, research, training, and service and has held the #1 position in psychiatry for 20 of the past 26 years according to the U.S. News & World Report. The Meditation Research Program leverages a wide array of approaches drawn from affective and cognitive neuroscience, applied phenomenology, clinical psychology and psychiatry, computer science and related computational disciplines, contemplative and religious studies, neuroimaging and electrophysiology, psychometrics and psychological assessment, and psychosomatic medicine. The Meditation Research Program's current research is made possible by funding provided by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Dimension Giving Fund, Ad Astra Chandaria Foundation, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (BBRF), BIAL Foundation, Ride for Mental Health, Gatto Foundation, and individual donors.
The Science of Advanced Meditation
Meditation is often understood in the media and academia to be a tool for "stress reduction". This understanding is limited: while meditation can be useful for reducing stress, it has the potential to facilitate deep psychological transformation. This potential is evidenced by diverse contemplative, philosophical, religious, and spiritual traditions that teach meditation as a core feature of their soteriological frameworks. Advanced meditation thus has potentially broad and deep implications for mental health and wellbeing. The Meditation Research Program's research includes studies of advanced meditation spanning meditative development and meditative endpoints using state-of-the-art scientific approaches. This research promises to contribute to new possibilities for meditation training, in both clinical and non-clinical contexts, for fostering well-being.
Representative Publications

Yang WFZ, Chowdhury A, Bianciardi M, Van Lutterveld R, Sparby T, Sacchet MD (in press) Intensive whole-brain 7T MRI case study of volitional control of brain activity in deep absorptive meditation states. Cerebral Cortex.

Chowdhury A, van Lutterveld R, Laukkonen RE, Slagter HA, Ingram DM, Sacchet MD (in press) Investigation of advanced mindfulness meditation “cessation” experiences using EEG spectral analysis in an intensively sampled case study. Neuropsychologia.

Wright MJ, Sanguinetti JL, Young S, Sacchet MD (2023) Uniting Contemplative Theory and Scientific Investigation: Toward a Generative and Comprehensive Model of the Mind. Mindfulness 14:1088-1101.

Galante J, Grabovac A, Wright M, Ingram DM, Van Dam NT, Sanguinetti JL, Sparby T, van Lutterveld R, Sacchet MD (2023) Proposing a Framework for Empirical Investigation into Mindfulness Meditative Development. Mindfulness 14:1054–1067.

Sezer I, Pizzagalli DA, Sacchet MD (2022) Resting-state fMRI functional connectivity and mindfulness in clinical and non-clinical contexts: A review and synthesis. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 135 104583.

Sparby T, Sacchet MD (2022) Defining meditation: Foundations for an activity-based phenomenological classification system. Frontiers in Psychology 12:795077.