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Meditation’s Effects on Emotion Shown to Persist

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  • medit8ionsociety
    Meditation affects a person’s brain function long after the act of meditation is over, according to new research. “This is the first time meditation
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 24, 2013
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      Meditation affects a person’s brain function long after the
      act of meditation is over, according to new research.

      “This is the first time meditation training has been shown to
      affect emotional processing in the brain outside of a meditative state,” said Gaelle Desbordes, Ph.D., a research fellow at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at
      Massachusetts General Hospital and at the Boston University
      Center for Computational Neuroscience and Neural Technology.

      “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.”

      The researchers began the study with the hypothesis that
      meditation can help control emotional responses.

      During meditation, a part of the brain called the amygdala
      (known for the processing of emotional stimuli) showed
      decreased activity. However, when the participants were shown
      images of other people that were either good, bad, or neutral
      for a practice known as “compassion meditation,” the amygdala
      was exceptionally responsive.

      The subjects were able to focus their attention and greatly
      reduce their emotional reactions. And over an eight-week period,
      the participants retained this ability.

      Even when they were not engaged in a meditative state,
      their emotional responses were subdued, and they experienced
      more compassion for others when faced with disturbing images.

      Around the same time, another group at Harvard Medical School
      (HMS) began to study the effect of meditation on retaining information. Their hypothesis was that people who meditate have
      more control over alpha rhythm â€" a brain wave thought to screen
      out everyday distractions, allowing for more important information
      to be processed.

      “Mindfulness meditation has been reported to enhance numerous
      mental abilities, including rapid memory recall,” said
      Catherine Kerr of the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging
      and the Osher Research Center, both at HMS.

      “Our discovery that mindfulness meditators more quickly adjusted
      the brain wave that screens out distraction could explain their superior ability to rapidly remember and incorporate new facts.”

      Both studies used participants that had no previous experience
      with meditation.

      Over an eight-week period and a 12-week period, both groups showed
      a marked change in their daily normal brain function, while they
      were meditating and while they were involved in medial activities.

      Some researchers believe that meditation might be the key to
      help ease off dependency on pharmaceutical drugs.

      “The implications extend far beyond meditation,” said Kerr.

      “They give us clues about possible ways to help people better regulate a brain rhythm that is deregulated in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and other conditions.”

      Source: Harvard University
      By Traci Pedersen Associate News Editor
      Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on June 23, 2013
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