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Bruno Dubuc, Patrick Robert, Denis Paquet, and Al Daigen

Tuesday, 18 February 2014
Lasting Effects of Meditation

A brain-imaging study published in the November 2012 issue of the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience seems to confirm past brain-imaging studies which found that meditation can help people pay better attention and manage stress more effectively. But the November 2012 study goes a bit further: it also shows that such measurable positive effects of meditation seem to continue even when the individual in question is not meditating.

The November 2012 study looked at the effects of two different kinds of meditation on the ability to manage one’s emotions. It compared two groups of individuals: test subjects who had participated in eight weeks of meditation training and members of a control group who had taken an eight-week course in health education. When the test subjects and the control group members were shown emotionally charged images, the right amygdala (but not the left one) showed less reaction in the former group than in the latter.

What is remarkable is that these effects were observed three weeks after the end of the meditation class, when the subjects had returned to their normal lives. That is the new contribution of this study, because the past studies that had detected changes in amygdala activity had done so in brains scans taken while the subjects were actively meditating.

This new study lends support to the hypothesis that meditation causes changes in brain activity that are not related to specific tasks and stimuli and that consequently may be long-lasting.

i_lien Meditation Appears to Produce Enduring Changes in Emotional Processing in the Brain
a_his Effects of mindful-attention and compassion meditation training on amygdala response to emotional stimuli in an ordinary, non-meditative state

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