How Mindfulness Meditation Permanently Changes Your Brain

Mindfulness meditation works on the brain by decoupling regions that have tended to function together.

How Mindfulness Meditation Permanently Changes Your Brain

What's the Latest?


While many studies have focused on how mindfulness meditation affects newcomers to the practice, a new study out of the University of Pittsburgh examined the brains of long-time meditators specifically when they were not meditating. "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."

What's the Big Idea?

Mindfulness meditation works on the brain by decoupling regions that have tended to function together. While researchers noticed an uptick in the brain regions that feel pain among meditators, for example, the individuals themselves reported experiencing less pain than non-meditators. This demonstrates the capacity of meditation to create new neural connections and change how different regions relate to one another. Over time, however, the brains of meditators return to more normal states of functioning, suggesting that the benefits achieved by meditation become default. 

Read more at Scientific American

Photo credit: Rawpixel/Shutterstock

Live on Thursday: Learn innovation with 3-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn

Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live this Thursday at 1pm ET.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to your calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo


Keep reading Show less

The world's watersheds, mapped in gorgeous detail

Hungarian cartographer travels the world while mapping its treasures.

Strange Maps
  • Simple idea, stunning result: the world's watersheds in glorious colors.
  • The maps are the work of Hungarian cartographer Robert Szucs.
  • His job: to travel and map the world, one good cause at a time.
Keep reading Show less

New Hubble images add to the dark matter puzzle

The images and our best computer models don't agree.

Surprising Science
  • Scientists can detect the gravitational effects of invisible dark matter.
  • Dark matter causes visual distortions of what's behind it.
  • The greater the distortion, the greater the amount of dark matter. Maybe.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Did our early ancestors boil their food in hot springs?

    Scientists have found evidence of hot springs near sites where ancient hominids settled, long before the control of fire.

    Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
    Culture & Religion
    Some of the oldest remains of early human ancestors have been unearthed in Olduvai Gorge, a rift valley setting in northern Tanzania where anthropologists have discovered fossils of hominids that existed 1.8 million years ago.
    Keep reading Show less
    Videos

    Personal finance: How to save, spend, and think rationally about money

    Finances can be a stressor, regardless of tax bracket. Here are tips for making better money decisions.

    Scroll down to load more…
    Quantcast