2012 Study: Meditation Affects Emotional Processing |

Leave a comment

February 19 by The Running Son

Meditation Appears to Produce Enduring Changes in Emotional Processing in the Brain

Study participants who completed an 8-week meditation training course had reduced activity in the right amygdala (highlighted structure) in response to emotional images, even when not meditating. (Credit: Gaëlle Desbordes, PhD, Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Mass. General Hospital)

Nov. 12, 2012 — A new study has found that participating in an 8-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 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, PhD, a research fellow at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at MGH and at the BU Center for Computational Neuroscience and Neural Technology, corresponding author of the report. “This is the first time that meditation training has been shown to affect emotional processing in the brain outside of a meditative state.”

Several previous studies have supported the hypothesis that meditation training improves practitioners’ emotional regulation. While neuroimaging studies have found that meditation training appeared to decrease activation of the amygdala — a structure at the base of the brain that is known to have a role in processing memory and emotion — those changes were only observed while study participants were meditating. The current study was designed to test the hypothesis that meditation training could also produce a generalized reduction in amygdala response to emotional stimuli, measurable by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Participants had enrolled in a larger investigation into the effects of two forms of meditation, based at Emory University in Atlanta. Healthy adults with no experience meditating participated in 8-week courses in either mindful attention meditation — the most commonly studied form that focuses on developing attention and awareness of breathing, thoughts and emotions — and compassion meditation, a less-studied form that includes methods designed to develop loving kindness and compassion for oneself and for others. A control group participated in an 8-week health education course.

Within three weeks before beginning and three weeks after completing the training, 12 participants from each group traveled to Boston for fMRI brain imaging at the Martinos Center’s state-of-the-art imaging facilities. Brain scans were performed as the volunteers viewed a series of 216 different images — 108 per session — of people in situations with either positive, negative or neutral emotional content. Meditation was not mentioned in pre-imaging instructions to participants, and investigators confirmed afterwards that the volunteers had not meditated while in the scanner. Participants also completed assessments of symptoms of depression and anxiety before and after the training programs.

In the mindful attention group, the after-training brain scans showed a decrease in activation in the right amygdala in response to all images, supporting the hypothesis that meditation can improve emotional stability and response to stress. In the compassion meditation group, right amygdala activity also decreased in response to positive or neutral images. But among those who reported practicing compassion meditation most frequently outside of the training sessions, right amygdala activity tended to increase in response to negative images — all of which depicted some form of human suffering. No significant changes were seen in the control group or in the left amygdala of any study participants.

“We think these two forms of meditation cultivate different aspects of mind,” Desbordes explains. “Since compassion meditation is designed to enhance compassionate feelings, it makes sense that it could increase amygdala response to seeing people suffer. Increased amygdala activation was also correlated with decreased depression scores in the compassion meditation group, which suggests that having more compassion towards others may also be beneficial for oneself. 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.”

Eric Schwartz, PhD, of the BU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Center for Computational Neuroscience and Neural Technology, is senior author of the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience report. Additional co-authors are Lobsang T. Negi, PhD, and Thaddeus Pace, PhD, Emory University; Alan Wallace, PhD, Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies; and Charles Raison, MD, University of Arizona College of Medicine. The study was supported by grants from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, including an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant to Boston University.

♫ Talk to Jim...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

RFB editor Jim Aldrich, Joshua Tree CA 2013

RunningSon aka Jim Aldrich, Joshua Tree CA 2013 | This site is dedicated with the deepest gratitude to Dr. Cláudio Naranjo, whose writings gave me life.

  • 342,746 souls hit the RFB

Click to Follow the RFB!

Join 1,032 other followers

Recent Posts…

Some RFB Followers…

Flag Counter
DoubleU = W

WITHIN ARE PIECES OF ME

UP!::urban po'E.Tree(s)

by po'E.T. and the colors of pi

The shadows of a dream

Words walking the tightrope from functionality to versification.

presentlymine

spice up your life vanilla style

galaktikapoetikeatunis

A topnotch WordPress.com site

forgottenmeadows

thoughts from my mind to yours

A Mirror Obscura,

Poetry, musings and sightings from where the country changes

annamosca

Poetic Landscapes Of The Spirit

Bilder

Ein schöner Tag - wenn er zu Ende geht, ist nichts mehr, wie es war...

realtalented

Im here to expose true talent

phillymanjim's Blog

Poetry, Musings, Photographs

Blog It Or Lose It

Paloma's Pen

The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

Here and now, with all of it.

James Radcliffe

Meditations on Art and Life

Tania Marie

Creating Life As A Work Of Art With A Magick Rabbit By My Side

Sean B

Nomadic & transient tales

belsbror

Simple Living

Eva Acharya

Screenwriter/Author

Smuggling Bay

About expression

leather green gargoyle

what I hear, what I read, what I write

Gray Poet

Just a place to express my poems.

HA's Place

of organic poems, multifarious prose, rambunctious ramblings, and queer dreams

sharkouni

The greatest WordPress.com site in all the land!

Notes on a Spanish Valley

Award-winning blog - Living in rural Andalucia

Wendy L. Macdonald

My faith is not shallow because I've been rescued from the deep.

idealisticrebel

Women's Issues, Peace, Creativity & Spirituality

intotheindigo

My muse's quiet amusement

Poemotherapi Shoppe

"Oh How Art Thou Love Of Poetry"

hammerwerk

light_and_shadow

I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

∙ tenderheartmusings ∙

we were born naked onto the page of existence; with nothing but the pen of our soul to write ourselves into eternal ecstasy ~ DreamingBear Baraka Kanaan

Traces of the Soul

Whispering insights of this, that, then and there

"we'll never be royals."

Small artists with big potential and lots of cliché.

ldr13

A Long Distance Relationship Blog. Join the FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/theLDRdiaries13

David Emeron: Sonnets

If I swore not to describe my heart, would it stop beating forever?

PICZLoad pics a la carte

Watchout Loud and Have PICBliss!

Simple Pleasures

Visual Poetry, Photography and Quotes

Of Distant Places

How it feels like feeling home to a person who lives 8,000 miles away

Manang Bok's House

Atrocities are sometimes nothing less than the vengeance of the tormented. (Louis de Bernieres)

going the distance for love blog

Life in a long distance relationship

Blase'

My heart, mind and soul...transcribed!

Don Charisma

because anything is possible with Charisma

%d bloggers like this: