Summary of Evidence for the Effects of Meditation on the Brain
The article “How Meditation Affects our Brains” argues that meditation can change brain structure and improve cognitive functioning, thus overall promoting mental and physical well-being. For instance, meditation can improve memory. Support for this claim comes from a study by Kerr et al. (2011) that examined the effect of mindfulness meditation on the regulation of alpha rhythms, a kind of brain wave that facilitates working memory by screening out distracting informationhz1 . This study found that mindfulness meditation allowed for better control of these alpha waveshz2 . Thus, meditation appears to aid the encoding and retrieval of important information. hz3
As a second piece of evidence for the cognitive benefits of meditation, the article cites a study by Colzato, Ozturk, and Hommel (2012) hz4 hz5 that looked into how two styles of meditation, open-monitoring and focused-attention, promoted thinking styles that would be conducive to creativityhz6 . The results of the study showed that focused-attention did not significantly improve performance on a creativity task, but open-monitoring did. Thus, meditation seems to enhance a mental state that is more able to generate novel ideas.
A third piece of evidence seems to suggest that meditation increases compassion. A study by Desbordes et al. (2012) looked at the enduring effects of meditation on emotional processing outside of a meditative state. Participants who underwent “compassion meditation” showed higher activation in their amygdala when viewing negative images of people than participants who engaged in mindful-attention meditation. These results seem to suggest that regular participation in compassion meditation can lead to lasting changes in the emotional areas of the brain that increase feelings of compassion.
Finally, the article draws attention to a link between meditation and increased grey matter. A study by Luders, Toga, Lepore, and Gaser (2009) hz7 found in the brains of meditators more grey matter in the hippocampal and frontal regions, areas that are known to be associated with emotional regulation and response control. Increased grey matter volume can signify increases in emotional stability, positive affect, and mindful behaviour.
“One of the things meditation has been linked to is improving rapid memory recall. Catherine Kerr, a researcher at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and the Osher Research Center found that people who practiced mindful meditation were able to adjust the brain wave that screens out distractions and increase their productivity more quickly that those that did not meditate. She said that this ability to ignore distractions could explain ‘their superior ability to rapidly remember and incorporate new facts'” (Cooper, 2013).
The original source of information is from a journal article titled “Effects of mindfulness meditation training on anticipatory alpha modulation in primary somatosensory cortex” by Kerr et al. (2011), published in Brain Research Bulletin. The media article mentioned one of the authors, Catherine Kerr, as well as what institute she was from. Key words, such as “mindful meditation,” “brain wave,” and “memory” helped narrow down the search. “Brain wave” refers to alpha rhythms, and, as the title suggests, this study looked at the influence of mindfulness meditation on alpha modulation.
“Researchers at Leiden University in the Netherlands studied both focused-attention and open-monitoring mediation to see if there was any improvement in creativity afterwards. They found that people who practiced focused-attention meditation did not show any obvious signs of improvement in the creativity task following their meditation. For those who did open-monitoring meditation, however, they performed better on a task that asked them to come up with new ideas” (Cooper, 2013).
The original source of information comes from an article titled “Meditate to create: the impact of focused-attention and open-monitoring training on convergent and divergent thinking” by Colzato L.S., Ozturk A. and Hommel B. (2012) published in Frontiers in Psychology. The media article mentions where the researchers are from, as well as key words such as “creativity,” “focused-attention,” and “open-monitoring” that are also found in some form in the title of the study.
“Research on meditation has shown that empathy and compassion are higher in those who practice meditation regularly. One experiment showed participants images of other people that were either good, bad or neutral in what they called “compassion meditation.” The participants were able to focus their attention and reduce their emotional reactions to these images, even when they weren’t in a meditative state. They also experienced more compassion for others when shown disturbing images.
“Part of this comes from activity in the amygdala—the part of the brain that processes emotional stimuli. During meditation, this part of the brain normally shows decreased activity, but in this experiment, it was exceptionally responsive when participants were shown images of people” (Cooper, 2013).
The original source of information comes from an article titled “Effects of mindful-attention and compassion meditation training on amygdala response to emotional stimuli in an ordinary, non-meditative state” by Desbordes et al. (2012), published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Key words such as “compassion meditation,” “attention,” and “amygdala” were used to find the original source.
“Meditation has been linked to larger amounts of gray matter in the hippocampus and frontal areas of the brain. I didn’t know what this meant at first, but it turns out it’s pretty great. More gray matter can lead to more positive emotions, longer-lasting emotional stability and heightened focus during daily life” (Cooper, 2013).
The original source of information comes from an article titled “The underlying anatomical correlates of long-term meditation: Larger hippocampal and frontal volumes of gray matter” by authors Luders, E., Toga, A. W., Lepore, N., and Gaser, C. (2009). Words from the media article such as “meditation,” “gray matter,” “hippocampus,” and “frontal area” correspond to words found in the title of the study. The abstract of the study also mentions “positive emotions” and “emotional stability,” same as the media article passage above.
hz2What does that mean? In layman’s language please define it.
hz3You are going really fast into the research, you need to introduce the topic more in-depth and firstly introduce all the lay man’s terms, and then go on to corelating it with the research.
hz4Please check the in-text citation again.
hz5Whose article? Yours? Confusing.
hz6Confusing statement, please rephrase for better understanding. Unclear: can you be more specific and flesh this out a bit?
hz7Wrong In-text citation