Move over cryptic crosswords and Sudoku, and make way for the ultimate mental workout. It’s called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, or MBSR for short. Recent neuroscience research shows that novices using the method – developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the 1970s – can get results in just eight weeks.
Brain-changing results, that is.
A 2010 study found that non-meditators who had eight weeks of MBSR training were more likely than a control group to access the brain region that provides a bodily sense of the “here and now” as opposed to the region associated with worry.
In other research published in January, brain scans of MBSR participants with no previous meditation experience showed increased grey-matter density in regions involved in learning and memory, emotion regulation, self-awareness and perspective taking.
Scientists don’t know whether changes in grey-matter density influence a person’s thought patterns or actions, notes Britta Hölzel, lead author of the second study and a research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital. But she adds that decreased grey-matter concentration in the amygdala – the brain region that controls anxiety – was correlated to lower stress levels reported by participants. “This is actually a link [between] changes in the brain and behaviour.”
Previous studies suggest MBSR is a boon…