Science shows what meditation really does to your brain

wildmind meditation newsJon Levine, Science.Mic: Meditation, according to its spiritual gurus, is a universal panacea. Enthusiasts have long preached its benefits, which include its ability to lower anxiety, improve concentration, help treat those with HIV and even extend one’s life expectancy.

While it’s undeniable meditation contributes to a sense of inner piece, its physiological benefits remain less certain. That is, until a team of researchers confirmed them. What they uncovered is more than surprising.

“We found several brain regions that had changed,” Sara Lazar, an associate research scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital, told Mic. Lazar conducted a major study on meditation in 2011 and was one …

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Emotional hijacking

September 2, 2014

Young woman cryingIn light of the machinery of survival-based, emotional reactivity, let’s look more narrowly at what Daniel Goleman has called “emotional hijacking.”

The emotional circuits of your brain – which are relatively primitive from an evolutionary standpoint, originally developed when dinosaurs ruled the earth – exert great influence over the more modern layers of the brain in the cerebral cortex. They do this in large part by continually “packaging” incoming sensory information in two hugely influential ways:

  • Labeling it with a subjective feeling tone: pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. This is primarily accomplished by the amygdala, in close concert with the hippocampus; this circuit is probably the specific structure of the brain responsible for the feeling
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Imaging finds different forms of meditation may affect brain structure

November 14, 2012

A new study has found that participating in an eight-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 Harvard Medical School-affiliated 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, … Read more »