Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

Meditation appears to produce enduring changes in emotional processing in the brain

November 13, 2012

A new study has found that participating in an 8-week meditation training program can have measurable effects on how the brain functions even when someone is not actively meditating. In their report in the November issue of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Boston University (BU), and several other research centers also found differences in those effects based on the specific type of meditation practiced.

"The two different types of meditation training our study participants completed yielded some differences in the response of the amygdala - a part of the brain known for decades to be important for emotion - to images with emotional content," says Gaëlle Desbordes, PhD, a research fellow at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at MGH and at the BU Center for Computational Neuroscience and Neural Technology, corresponding author of the report. "This is the first time that meditation training has been shown to affect emotional processing in the brain outside of a meditative state."

Several previous studies have supported the hypothesis that meditation training improves practitioners' emotional regulation. While neuroimaging studies have found that meditation training appeared to decrease activation of the amygdala - a structure at the base of the brain that is known to have a role in processing memory and emotion - those changes were only observed while study participants were meditating. The current study was designed to test the hypothesis that meditation training could also produce a generalized reduction in amygdala response to emotional stimuli, measurable by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Participants had enrolled in a larger investigation into the effects of two forms of meditation, based at Emory University in Atlanta. Healthy adults with no experience meditating participated in 8-week courses in either mindful attention meditation - the most commonly studied form that focuses on developing attention and awareness of breathing, thoughts and emotions - and compassion meditation, a less-studied form that includes methods designed to develop loving kindness and compassion for oneself and for others. A control group participated in an 8-week health education course.

Within three weeks before beginning and three weeks after completing the training, 12 participants from each group traveled to Boston for fMRI brain imaging at the Martinos Center's state-of-the-art imaging facilities. Brain scans were performed as the volunteers viewed a series of 216 different images - 108 per session - of people in situations with either positive, negative or neutral emotional content. Meditation was not mentioned in pre-imaging instructions to participants, and investigators confirmed afterwards that the volunteers had not meditated while in the scanner. Participants also completed assessments of symptoms of depression and anxiety before and after the training programs.

In the mindful attention group, the after-training brain scans showed a decrease in activation in the right amygdala in response to all images, supporting the hypothesis that meditation can improve emotional stability and response to stress. In the compassion meditation group, right amygdala activity also decreased in response to positive or neutral images. But among those who reported practicing compassion meditation most frequently outside of the training sessions, right amygdala activity tended to increase in response to negative images - all of which depicted some form of human suffering. No significant changes were seen in the control group or in the left amygdala of any study participants.

"We think these two forms of meditation cultivate different aspects of mind," Desbordes explains. "Since compassion meditation is designed to enhance compassionate feelings, it makes sense that it could increase amygdala response to seeing people suffer. Increased amygdala activation was also correlated with decreased depression scores in the compassion meditation group, which suggests that having more compassion towards others may also be beneficial for oneself. Overall, these results are consistent with the overarching hypothesis that meditation may result in enduring, beneficial changes in brain function, especially in the area of emotional processing."

Eric Schwartz, PhD, of the BU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Center for Computational Neuroscience and Neural Technology, is senior author of the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience report. Additional co-authors are Lobsang T. Negi, PhD, and Thaddeus Pace, PhD, Emory University; Alan Wallace, PhD, Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies; and Charles Raison, MD, University of Arizona College of Medicine. The study was supported by grants from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, including an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant to Boston University.

Massachusetts General Hospital


Related Meditation Current Events and Meditation News Articles


Coping with active surveillance anxiety in prostate cancer
Men with prostate cancer who are under close medical surveillance reported significantly greater resilience and less anxiety over time after receiving an intervention of mindfulness meditation, according to a recently published pilot study from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Mindfulness-based eating awareness helps adolescents eat healthier foods, be more active
Some of the simplest, safest lessons to help adolescents combat obesity may be raising their awareness of what they are eating and whether they are even hungry, researchers say.

New study finds Transcendental Meditation reduces stress in family caregivers
It has been estimated that over 20% of the U.S. population has served as an unpaid non-professional family caregiver for an elderly or disabled person -- and the resulting stress can be devastating.

Pilot study shows meditation can help US veterans manage chronic pain
They return to the United States with multiple types of trauma, and suffer from one of the highest rates of chronic pain of any population in the United States.

Meditation eases pain, anxiety and fatigue during breast cancer biopsy
Meditation eases anxiety, fatigue and pain for women undergoing breast cancer biopsies, according to researchers at the Duke Cancer Institute. They also found that music is effective, but to a lesser extent.

Clean kitchens cut calories
Cluttered and chaotic environments can cause stress, which can lead us to grab more of the indulgent snacks-- twice as many cookies according to this new study!

Transcendental Meditation and lifestyle modification increase telomerase, new study finds
A new study published in PLOS ONE found that the Transcendental Meditation technique and lifestyle changes both appear to stimulate genes that produce telomerase, an enzyme that's associated with reduced blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and mortality.

Seven minutes of meditation can reduce racial prejudice, study finds
A popular meditation technique that's intended to create feelings of kindness can also reduce prejudice, according to new University of Sussex research.

The search for happiness: Using MRI to find where happiness happens
Exercising, meditating, scouring self-help books... we go out of our way to be happy, but do we really know what happiness is?

Yoga may lessen side effects in men undergoing prostate cancer treatment
Men with prostate cancer who are undergoing radiation therapy can benefit from yoga, researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania reported at the Society of Integrative Oncology's 12th International Conference.
More Meditation Current Events and Meditation News Articles

Meditation And Mindfulness: The Secrets To Raising Your Awareness, Spirituality And Inner Peace Through Mindfulness Meditation

Meditation And Mindfulness: The Secrets To Raising Your Awareness, Spirituality And Inner Peace Through Mindfulness Meditation
by David Green (Author)


We live in a very chaotic society and all of us have experienced stress at one time or another. We focus our attention on such things as traveling to and from work, performing tasks that are related to our jobs, paying bills, meeting the obligations to our families, our significant others and the list goes on. We are so caught up that we rarely find the time to recharge our batteries because we are always on the go, always doing something, and the result of this chaos is, we never really get to experience the precious present moment. We take it for granted. We are not mindful of it. Our minds, our bodies and our souls yearn for inner peace because it is much needed in a world like this. To gain this inner peace we have to calm the mind first then we can properly manage and turn the daily...

The Meditation Transformation: How to Relax and Revitalize Your Body, Your Work, and Your Perspective Today

The Meditation Transformation: How to Relax and Revitalize Your Body, Your Work, and Your Perspective Today
by Empowerment Nation


**INCLUDED WITH EACH PURCHASE: After downloading your copy of the book, follow the instructions at the end to receive a free fourteen minute guided meditation!**

Have you ever considered meditating, but didn’t follow through because you thought it wasn’t for you? Have you ever asked, “What exactly is meditation anyway?” If you’ve already begun meditating, do you struggle to know when is the best time and how to go about it?

Meditation is one of the most misunderstood, yet incredibly beneficial practices out there, and chances are that you have a lot of questions. Whether you’re just curious, newly beginning your meditative journey, or already an advanced practitioner, The Meditation Transformation: How to Relax and Revitalize Your Body, Your Work,...

Meditations

Meditations
by Marcus Aurelius (Author)


Meditations is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor 161–180 CE, setting forth his ideas on Stoic philosophy. Marcus Aurelius wrote the 12 books of the Meditations in Koine Greek as a source for his own guidance and self-improvement. It is possible that large portions of the work were written at Sirmium, where he spent much time planning military campaigns from 170 to 180. Some of it was written while he was positioned at Aquincum on campaign in Pannonia, because internal notes tell us that the second book was written when he was campaigning against the Quadi on the river Granova (modern-day Hron) and the third book was written at Carnuntum. It is not clear that he ever intended the writings to be published, so the title Meditations is but one of several...

Meditation: Meditation for Beginners - How to Relieve Stress, Depression & Anxiety to Get Inner Peace and Happiness (Yoga, Mindfulness, Guided Meditation, Meditation Techniques, How to Meditate)

Meditation: Meditation for Beginners - How to Relieve Stress, Depression & Anxiety to Get Inner Peace and Happiness (Yoga, Mindfulness, Guided Meditation, Meditation Techniques, How to Meditate)


Learn How To Meditate And Relieve Stress From Your Life Using The Most Advanced Meditation & Mindfulness Techniques Known Today!

Modern life is the time full of a busy schedule and hectic days. Being stressed and frustrated is very much common nowadays. Mostly people are unhappy and unsatisfied with their hectic routines. People find ways to relax and to relieve their stress. To the mentioned problem, meditation could be the solution. Researches have shown positive results in this concern that meditation is a successful mean of reducing stress and frustration. It is one of the widely used activities being used for minimizing stress rate. People use meditation techniques to get mindfulness state. As some people are in favor of mediation, on the other hand, some have an...

Meditation for Beginners

Meditation for Beginners
by Jack Kornfield Ph.D (Author)


Have you ever thought about trying meditation, but didn’t know how to get started?  With Meditation for Beginners, trusted teacher Jack Kornfield shows you how simple it is to start—and stick with—a daily meditation practice.“Insight” or vipassana meditation is the time-honored skill of calming the spirit and clearing the mind for higher understanding.  Now, in this course created especially for beginners, Kornfield offers a straightforward, step-by-step method for bringing meditation into your life.Using the meditations included in this book, you will discover how easy it is to use your breath, physical sensations—and even difficult emotions—to create tranquility and lovingkindness in your everyday life.  These simple, elegant practices are so easy to learn that you will...

Meditation: Complete Guide to Relieving Stress and Living A Peaceful Life

Meditation: Complete Guide to Relieving Stress and Living A Peaceful Life
by Jen Steifer (Author)


Are You Constantly Stressed Out Everyday? Do you find yourself always stressed out? Are you constantly worrying about tomorrow or even the next task that you have to do? All of us live very busy lives where stress plays a major factor in our day to day activities. Meditation is one of the best ways to eliminate stress in your life. Inside this book you will have the best meditation techniques that are guaranteed to help you and make you feel better in your everyday life.

Meditations

Meditations
by Marcus Aurelius (Author)


A translation of one of the most important texts of Western philosophy. Few ancient works have been as influential as the MEDITATIONS of Marcus Aurelius. A series of spiritual exercises filled with wisdom, practical guidance, and profound understanding of human behaviour, it remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written. Marcus's insights and advice - on everything from living in the world to coping with adversity and interacting with others - have made the MEDITATIONS required reading for statesmen and philosophers alike, while generations of ordinary readers have responded to the straightforward intimacy of his style. In Gregory Hays's new translation - the first in thirty-five years - Marcus's thoughts speak with a new immediacy. In fresh and...

Meditations (Dover Thrift Editions)

Meditations (Dover Thrift Editions)
by Marcus Aurelius (Author)


One of the world's most famous and influential books, Meditations, by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 121–180), incorporates the stoic precepts he used to cope with his life as a warrior and administrator of an empire. Ascending to the imperial throne in A.D. 161, Aurelius found his reign beset by natural disasters and war. In the wake of these challenges, he set down a series of private reflections, outlining a philosophy of commitment to virtue above pleasure and tranquility above happiness.
Reflecting the emperor's own noble and self-sacrificing code of conduct, this eloquent and moving work draws and enriches the tradition of Stoicism, which stressed the search for inner peace and ethical certainty in an apparently chaotic world. Serenity was to be achieved by emulating...

Meditation for Beginners: How to Relieve Stress, Anxiety and Depression and Return to a State of Inner Peace and Happiness

Meditation for Beginners: How to Relieve Stress, Anxiety and Depression and Return to a State of Inner Peace and Happiness
by Yesena Chavan (Author)


Learn how meditation can transform your life TODAY! A 'meditation for beginners' guide that will give you life-long peace and happiness. A regular meditation habit can make you healthier, happier and more successful than ever! This book will teach you exactly how to calm your mind, release tension and “let go” in a way that will change your life forever! Meditation isn't about chanting, crystals or playing with an eagle feather. It is a scientifically proven way of taking control of your life by taking control of your mind. With Meditation for Beginners - How to Relieve Stress, Anxiety and Depression and Return to a State of Inner Peace and Happiness you’re going to learn exactly how to meditate, how to use meditation techniques to calm your mind and how to practice meditation...

Meditation And Mindfulness: How you can learn to Meditate in less than 15 minutes a day like the Ancient Yogis

Meditation And Mindfulness: How you can learn to Meditate in less than 15 minutes a day like the Ancient Yogis
by Kathy Lee (Author)


Meditation and Mindfulness: How you can learn to Meditate in less than 15 minutes a day like the Ancient Yogis Meditation and mindfulness are powerful techniques to achieve fulfillment and happiness in life. This Book describes in detail about the effects of meditation and how you can learn this amazing practice to lead a stress free life. Meditation is not merely a tool for relaxation but a wholesome way of life. There are many misconceptions regarding meditation. Many believe that it’s a religious and occult practice meant only for people who want to renounce the world. In fact, meditation is a technique which makes you live a happier, healthier and more fruitful life. In this eBook you will learn about various potent practices which will help you in mastering meditation and...

© 2016 BrightSurf.com