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You are browsing all posts tagged with the topic: brain science

Rick Hanson PhD

Jan 10, 2013

The neuro-benefits of meditation

DSC_0502(45).jpgMeditation is to the mind what aerobic exercise is to the body. Like exercise, there are many good ways to do it and you can find the one that suits you best.

Studies have shown that regular meditation promotes mindfulness (sustained observing awareness), whose benefits include decreased stress-related cortisol, insomnia, symptoms of autoimmune illnesses, PMS, asthma, falling back into depression, general emotional distress, anxiety, and panic, and increased immune system factors, control of blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, detachment from reactions, self-understanding, and general well-being.

In your brain, regular meditation increases gray matter (neuronal cell bodies and synapses) in the:

  • Insula – Handles interoception (sense of your own body); self-awareness in general; empathy for

Wildmind Meditation News

Dec 16, 2012

The power of concentration

Maria Konnikova, New York Times: Meditation and mindfulness: the words conjure images of yoga retreats and Buddhist monks. But perhaps they should evoke a very different picture: a man in a deerstalker, puffing away at a curved pipe, Mr. Sherlock Holmes himself. The world’s greatest fictional detective is someone who knows the value of concentration, of “throwing his brain out of action,” as Dr. Watson puts it. He is the quintessential unitasker in a multitasking world.

More often than not, when a new case is presented, Holmes does nothing more than sit back in his leather chair, close his eyes and put together …

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Wildmind Meditation News

Nov 16, 2012

Meditation changes experience of pain

Meditation can change the way a person experiences pain, according to a new study by University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientists.

The researchers found that during a pain experiment, expert meditators felt the discomfort as intensely as novice meditators, but the experience wasn’t as unpleasant for them.

Images of brain regions linked to pain and anxiety may explain why. Compared to novice meditators, experts had less activity in the anxiety regions.

Not only did the experts feel less anxiety immediately before pain stimulation, they also became accustomed to the pain more quickly after being exposed repeatedly to it.

The scientists, based at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, run a robust program analyzing the effects of meditation. …

Wildmind Meditation News

Nov 14, 2012

Imaging finds different forms of meditation may affect brain structure

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, a research fellow at the Athinoula …

Wildmind Meditation News

Sep 18, 2012

Stressed out? Try mindfulness meditation

Meryl Davids Landau, US News: One of the hottest forms of stress reduction today is actually one of the oldest: meditation. But the kind making the rounds of hospitals, community centers, and even schools in increasing numbers doesn’t involve chanting “Om” while sitting on a cushion with closed eyes; instead, participants are trained to pay attention to their thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations, and to view them neutrally, “without assigning an emotional value that they are strongly positive or negative,” says University of Wisconsin–Madison neuroscientist Richard Davidson, coauthor of The Emotional Life of Your Brain.

The idea is to allow parts of the …

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Wildmind Meditation News

Sep 13, 2012

The neuroscience of wellbeing

Jock Gilchrist, The Review: Meditation has been a central component of religious traditions for millennia. Various methods exist, but it generally consists of quieting the mind to achieve a state of relaxation and clarity. Buddhists use it to cultivate virtuous qualities like compassion and equanimity because in the meditative state, the mind is compared to malleable gold. As it turns out, the sages of old actually tapped into quite a literal truth.

Modern neurobiology hypothesizes that what we experience subjectively as a mood or emotion is underpinned by complex, systemic interactions of chemicals called neurotransmitters in the brain. Take, for example, antidepressants: they …

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Wildmind Meditation News

Jul 08, 2012

Stanford studies monks’ meditation, compassion

Meredith May: Stanford neuroeconomist Brian Knutson is an expert in the pleasure center of the brain that works in tandem with our financial decisions – the biology behind why we bypass the kitchen coffeemaker to buy the $4 Starbucks coffee every day.

He can hook you up to a brain scanner, take you on a simulated shopping spree and tell by looking at your nucleus accumbens – an area deep inside your brain associated with fight, flight, eating and fornicating – how you process risk and reward, whether you’re a spendthrift or a tightwad.

So when his colleagues saw him putting Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns into …

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Wildmind Meditation News

Apr 25, 2012

Distinct ‘God spot’ in the brain does not exist, researcher says

Scientists have speculated that the human brain features a “God spot,” one distinct area of the brain responsible for spirituality. Now, University of Missouri researchers have completed research that indicates spirituality is a complex phenomenon, and multiple areas of the brain are responsible for the many aspects of spiritual experiences. Based on a previously published study that indicated spiritual transcendence is associated with decreased right parietal lobe functioning, MU researchers replicated their findings. In addition, the researchers determined that other aspects of spiritual functioning are related to increased activity in the frontal lobe.

“We have found a neuropsychological basis for spirituality, but it’s not isolated to one specific area of the brain,” said Brick Johnstone, professor of health psychology in the …

Wildmind Meditation News

Mar 22, 2012

Research reveals meditation changes brain

Denise Dador, KABC: Over the years, numerous studies have shown how meditation can be a great way to manage and alleviate stress. Now local researchers say there appears to be physical proof that shows years of meditation may change the brain.

Meditation trainer Julianna Raye of Hollywood is guiding a mindfulness exercise. She’s been practicing for 17 years and says it’s made her mind stronger.

“It’s like training at the gym,” said Raye. “You’re training your mind. You’re improving your concentration. And that’s a skill that you need to develop.”

Raye may be using building muscles …

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Wildmind Meditation News

Nov 16, 2011

Rewiring the brain to ease pain

Melinda Beck: How you think about pain can have a major impact on how it feels.

That’s the intriguing conclusion neuroscientists are reaching as scanning technologies let them see how the brain processes pain.

That’s also the principle behind many mind-body approaches to chronic pain that are proving surprisingly effective in clinical trials.

Some are as old as meditation, hypnosis and tai chi, while others are far more high tech. In studies at Stanford University’s Neuroscience and Pain Lab, subjects can watch their own brains react to pain in real-time and learn to control their response—much like building up a muscle …

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