MRI scans show that after an eight-week course of mindfulness practice, the brain’s “fight or flight” center, the amygdala, appears to shrink. This primal region of the brain, associated with fear and emotion, is involved in the initiation of the body’s response to stress.
As the amygdala shrinks, the pre-frontal cortex – associated with higher order brain functions such as awareness, concentration and decision-making – becomes thicker.
The “functional connectivity” between these regions – i.e. how often they are activated together – also changes. The connection between the amygdala and the rest of the brain gets weaker, while the connections between areas associated with attention and concentration get stronger. Continue reading “What Does Mindfulness Meditation Do to Your Brain?”
We are used to hearing that meditation is good for the brain, but now it seems that not just any kind of meditation will do. Just like physical exercise, the kind of improvements you get depends on exactly how you train – and most of us are doing it all wrong.
That the brain changes physically when we learn a new skill, like juggling or playing a musical instrument, has been known for over a decade. Previous studies had suggested that meditation does something similar for parts of the brain involved in focused attention.
Just like physical exercise, the kind of improvements you get with meditation depend on exactly how you train
Source: Different meditation types train distinct parts of your brain
Here’s why that’s important:
- The cerebral cortex is the largest region of the cerebrum in the mammalian brain and plays a key role in memory, attention, perception, cognition, awareness, thought, language, and consciousness.
- The primary structures in the limbic system include the amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus, hypothalamus, basal ganglia, and cingulate gyrus. The amygdala is the emotional center of your brain. It controls your body’s fight-or-flight response. The hippocampus plays an essential role in the formation of new memories and seems to be involved in some mental illnesses, like schizophrenia and depression.
- The brain stem is at the bottom posterior part of the brain joining to your spinal cord. The nerve connections of the motor and sensory systems from the main part of the brain to the rest of your body pass through the brainstem. Therefore, it’s one of the most vital regions for your body’s survival. It regulates control of the heart and lungs and coordinates many other important bodily reflexes.
Continue reading “Mindfulness Is Shifting the Location of Control in Your Brain”
Within the past few decades, there has been a surge of interest in the investigation of mindfulness as a psychological construct and as a form of clinical intervention. This article reviews the empirical literature on the effects of mindfulness on psychological health. We begin with a discussion of the construct of mindfulness, differences between Buddhist and Western psychological conceptualizations of mindfulness, and how mindfulness has been integrated into Western medicine and psychology, before reviewing three areas of empirical research: cross-sectional, correlational research on the associations between mindfulness and various indicators of psychological health; intervention research on the effects of mindfulness-oriented interventions on psychological health; and laboratory-based, experimental research on the immediate effects of mindfulness inductions on emotional and behavioral functioning. We conclude that mindfulness brings about various positive psychological effects, including increased subjective well-being, reduced psychological symptoms and emotional reactivity, and improved behavioral regulation. The review ends with a discussion on mechanisms of change of mindfulness interventions and suggested directions for future research.
Continue reading “Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health”