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Archive for ‘Improves mental performance’

Sharpen Mental Performance

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-78Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found that people who regularly practice meditation have improved mental performance such as enhanced learning, memory, and compassion. For participants who regularly meditate, researchers discovered increased grey-matter in the hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with learning and memory. In the amygdala, researchers found decreased grey-matter, causing significant reduction in individuals’ stress and anxiety. Due to meditation’s promising stress-relieving potential, researchers are considering incorporating meditative therapies into treatment plans for stress-related disorders such as PTSD. Meditation plays a significant role in improving mental performance and well-being and is predicted to continue delivering cognitive and psychological benefits in the long term for regular practitioners.

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Enhances Mental Discipline

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

A recent article published in Neuroimage suggests that mindfulness meditation increases connections in the brain, enhancing mental discipline. Studies conducted at UCLA, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center all generate similar findings that point to improved brain connectivity resulting from this particular form of meditation. One study even suggests that meditation is powerful enough to affect our genes. Researchers explain that meditation evokes the “relaxation response” which allows for the activation and deactivation of certain sets of genes in regular meditators. Although additional research on the connections between meditation and gene control is still needed, the study indicates that the genes affected by this technique control inflammation processes, cell death, and management of free radicals.

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Causes Behavior Enhancing Changes in the Brain

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-80Researchers at Texas Tech University have found that integrative body-mind training (IBMT) causes structural transformations in white matter in the brain which leads to positive behavioral changes in individuals. A Chinese approach to mindfulness meditation, IBMT has proven to have these benefits on anyone who has practiced the technique regularly for at least one month and a minimum duration of 11 hours total. The increased brain connections related to white matter are linked to improved changes in participants’ mood. The findings provide further evidence of enhanced neuroplasticity as a result of mindfulness meditation, which have the ability to positively impact emotional and cognitive development.

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Increases Brain Connectivity

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-81Recent research by a team of researchers from Dalian University of Technology and the University of Oregon suggests that Chinese mindfulness meditation causes an increase in brain connectivity. Known as IBMT, this method is closely related to traditional Chinese medicine and focuses on arriving at a state of restful alertness that facilitates a heightened sense of mind-body awareness. IBMT training is not yet available in the U.S., aside from the research being conducted at the University of Oregon. The study’s findings suggest the brain’s ability to change its structure in an area related to an individual’s regulation of conflict. While yielding promising results, further research is needed to gain a deeper understanding of the processes at work in the brain during IBMT.

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Enhances Regulation of Emotion and Behavior

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-82An article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that IBMT meditation enhances the brain’s regulation of emotions, behaviors, and thoughts. After only 11 hours of practicing this traditional Chinese meditation technique, study participants had already demonstrated structural changes in the area of the brain – the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) – associated with the regulation of behavior and emotion. Not only was this brain structure altered, but its connectivity to other areas of the brain were strengthened significantly. These findings suggest the applicability of IBMT to enhancing workplace performance, and controlling emotions in high-stress situations including test-taking and public speaking, as well as many other areas of everyday life.

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Slows Aging of the Brain

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-83A recent study conducted by scientists from Yale and Massachusetts General Hospital indicates that meditating regularly can slow the thinning of brain structures resulting from aging. The practice has actually been found to thicken key areas of the brain related to auditory, sensory, visual, and internal perception. The study examined the brain function of participants who were highly trained in Buddhist Insight meditation, identifying important changes in the right hemisphere, which is associated with maintaining focus and attention. Researchers predict that other forms of meditation will have similar effects on the brain, although more research is required to explore that possibility.

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Enhances Well-being through Neuroplasticity

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-84A study conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison marks a significant transition within neuroscience research away from a focus on disease in favor of a focus on well-being. The researchers’ findings suggest that meditation causes neuroplastic changes in the brain that in turn enhance individuals’ well-being. In particular, the study measured meditation’s effects on neural networks that are associated with socially compassionate behavior including altruism, empathy, and kindness. Just as social stressors can damage the brain, researchers explain, positive social interventions like mindfulness meditation can enhance brain function and structure. The study represents an important step in our understanding of the complex process of neuroplasticity.

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Helps Tune Out Distractions

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-85A recent study conducted by scientists from Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology presents evidence that mindfulness meditation may positively affect an important brain structure that helps us tune out distractions. A brain wave known as the “alpha rhythm,” this structure helps us ignore distracting information in order to avoid overstimulation. Researchers stress the fact that this function has special value for people living in today’s hyper-stimulating world. The study’s finding helps to explain mindfulness meditators’ enhanced capacity for memory and retention of new information, which can easily be connected to the brain’s control of the alpha rhythm.

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Enhances Brain Function

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-86A new study out of UCLA indicates that regular meditation enhances overall brain function by increasing the brain’s ability to process information at a faster rate. This phenomenon, known as “gyrification” refers to the literal folding of the cerebral cortex which enhances this information processing ability. Researchers interpret these new findings as further evidence of the brain’s neuroplasticity in response to meditation. Increased gyrification is also associated with improved decision-making and memory-forming processes. The study also revealed the close correlation between the number of years an individual has been meditating and the amount of gyrification in their brain.

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Increases Brain Size

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

meditation-image-87A groundbreaking study by scientists at Yale, Harvard, and MIT provides the first evidence that meditation – Buddhist insight meditation in particular – has the potential to increase the size of the brain. This brain growth was the result of meditators’ increased thickness in the part of the brain associated with sensory input and attention. This cerebral area affects emotional processing and cognitive function and well-being. Although meditating participants did not experience significant brain growth – the average was 4 to 8 thousandths of an inch – even this minimal increase is significant when it comes to general brain function. The study has revealed the need for additional research to examine the benefits of meditation on the brain in more detail.

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