Studies have shown that meditating regularly can help relieve chronic pain, but the neural mechanisms underlying the relief were unclear. Now, researchers from MIT, Harvard, and Massachusetts General Hospital have found a possible explanation.
In a recent study published in the journal Brain Research Bulletin, the researchers found that people trained to meditate over an eight-week period were better able to control a specific type of brain waves, called alpha rhythms.
“These activity patterns are thought to minimize distractions, to diminish the likelihood stimuli will grab your attention,” says Christopher Moore, PhD…
The positive effects of mindfulness meditation on pain and working memory may result from an improved ability to regulate a crucial brain wave called the alpha rhythm, say researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This rhythm is thought to “turn down the volume” on distracting information, which suggests that a key value of meditation may be helping the brain deal with an often-overstimulating world.
The researchers report that modulation of the alpha rhythm in response to attention-directing cues was faster and significantly more enhanced among study participants who completed an eight-week mindfulness meditation program than in a control group. The report will appear in the journal … Read more »