home
RSS
How meditating may help your brain
November 21st, 2011
06:05 PM ET

How meditating may help your brain

When you're under pressure from work and family and the emails don't stop coming, it's hard to stop your mind from jumping all over the place.

But scientists are finding that it may be worth it to train your brain to focus on something as simple as your breath, which is part of mindfulness meditation.

A new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the latest in a hot emerging field of research examining how meditation relates to the brain. It shows that people who are experienced meditators show less activity in the brain's default mode network, when the brain is not engaged in focused thought.

The default mode network is associated with introspection and mind wandering. Typically, drifting thoughts tend to focus on negative subjects, creating more stress and anxiety. It has also been linked to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers looked at experienced meditators and trained novices. There were 12 in the "experienced" category, with an average of more than 10,000 hours of mindfulness meditation experience (Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers" suggests that it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert at something), and 12 healthy volunteers who were novices in meditation.

Each volunteer was instructed to engage in three types of meditation: concentration (attention to the breath), love-kindness (wishing beings well) and choiceless awareness (focus on whatever comes up). Scientists looked at their brain activity during these meditations with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Across all of these types of meditation, the experienced meditators showed less activity in the default mode network than in the novices. The experienced participants also reported less mind wandering than the novices. Interestingly, experienced meditators also showed increased connectivity between certain brain networks during meditation and non-meditation.

"It doesn't matter what they're doing, they have an altered default mode network," said Dr. Judson Brewer, medical director of the Yale University Therapeutic Neuroscience Clinic and lead author of the study. "We were pretty excited about that, because it suggests that these guys are paying attention a lot more."

From this particular study, researchers can't say whether meditating is beneficial to the brain. But, viewed in conjunction with other studies showing the positive effects of mindfulness training for depression, substance abuse, anxiety and pain disorders, it seems to have promise. Also, a 2010 study found that people tend to be more unhappy when they their mind is wandering.

"Putting all those together, we might be able to start get at what the mechanisms of mindfulness are," Brewer said.

But the study does not address the issue of cause: Is meditation changing the brain, or do people who already have these brain patterns get interested in meditation?

"Emerging data from our group and others suggests that some things thought to be result of meditation might be cause of meditation," said Dr. Charles Raison, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

If some people are just better at keeping their minds from wandering, that would also be consistent with the Buddhist idea that your capabilities are the result of your Karmic path, so meditation may be better suited to some people than others, Raison said.

Someday, if brain scans become cheap enough, one day there might be a test to see who can benefit most from mindfulness training, Raison said.

In the meantime, scientists should explore these open questions by doing longitudinal studies, Raison said. That would involve assigning some people to meditate and some people to not meditate, and following the groups over time to see whether a change in brain activity patterns is visible.


soundoff (814 Responses)
  1. 2010 Mercedes Sprinter Repair Panels

    You are so interesting! I don't suppose I've truly read through anything like this before. So great to discover someone with some unique thoughts on this topic. Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that is needed on the web, someone with a little originality!

    http://moe.gov.np/site/language/swaplang/1/?redirect=https://fleettruckrepairshop.com/sprinter-van-upgrades-shop-near-me

    May 12, 2021 at 09:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. parts shop near me

    https://legacy.aom.org/verifymember.asp?nextpage=https://ocrvmotorcoaches.com/rv-repair-shop-toluca-lake-california

    May 12, 2021 at 11:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. LbsoZisse

    reliable source cialis http://ucialisdas.com/ – cialis online cheapest generic cialis

    May 12, 2021 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. RV Bay Doors Riverside

    http://nigerianarmy.org/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=yelp.com/biz/ocrv-center-yorba-linda-2

    May 12, 2021 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. national interstate rv insurance reviews

    https://www.meetme.com/apps/redirect/?url=https://ocrv.mobi/motorhome-upgrade-near-me

    May 12, 2021 at 17:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. rv storage orange county ca

    https://www.etis.ford.com/externalURL.do?url=https://ocrvandtrucks.com/rv-repair-shop-yorba-linda-california

    May 12, 2021 at 19:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RV Countertops Orange County

    http://pandarim2.host8.da.to/bannerhit.php?bn_id=9&url=http3A2F2F

    May 12, 2021 at 19:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. fiberglass shop near me

    https://www.itic.org/redirect?r=96fe14b2-fa4d-4b35-860d-365da81621d2&redir=https://ocrvmotorsports.com/rv-repair-shop-reseda-california

    May 12, 2021 at 20:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. rv repair orange county california

    I quite like reading an article that will make men and women think. Also, thanks for permitting me to comment!

    https://www.c2financialcorp.com/home/click.php?id=55&link=http://youtube.com/watch?v=K3UVm5enZ0o

    May 12, 2021 at 21:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. collision repair shop near me

    Spot on with this write-up, I truly believe that this amazing site needs a lot more attention. I’ll probably be returning to see more, thanks for the information!

    https://nowlifestyle.com/redir.php?k=9a4e080456dabe5eebc8863cde7b1b48&url=https://youtube.com/watch?v=KLnLlPwDnwo

    May 12, 2021 at 21:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Handicap Van Ramp Repair

    http://biz.timesfreepress.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=fleetrepairshops.com/sprinter-van-maintenance-shop-near-me

    May 13, 2021 at 03:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. red tube pictures

    https://emex.ru/error?url=https://youtube.com/watch?v=M8bvF5afHSg

    May 13, 2021 at 03:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. parts shop near me

    I used to be able to find good information from your blog posts.

    https://www.zlatestranky.cz/Cookies/Disagree?returnUrl=https://ocrvcenter.co/medical-truck-collision-repair-shop-near-me

    May 13, 2021 at 05:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. rv interior upgrades

    This website really has all the information and facts I wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

    http://testphp.vulnweb.com/redir.php?r=https://ocrvmotorcoaches.com/rv-repair-shop-hawthorne-california

    May 13, 2021 at 06:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. BbshMile

    buy viagra cheaply https://loxviagra.com/ is cialis better than viagra

    May 13, 2021 at 07:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. rv wraps before and after

    https://www.adultwork.com/SetReferrerCookie.asp?SelUserID=602668&ReferringURL=&TargetURL=https://ocrv.vip/rv-repair-shop-shadow-hills-california

    May 13, 2021 at 08:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. FmrfEncox

    generic cialis testimonials http://cialisee.com/ cialis from china

    May 13, 2021 at 08:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. 2003 Dodge Sprinter Repair

    https://jamesattorney.agilecrm.com/click?u=https://boxtruckrepairshop.com/courier-van-repair-shop-near-me

    May 13, 2021 at 10:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. RV Interior Designer California

    The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn't fail me just as much as this one. After all, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought you would have something interesting to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you can fix if you were not too busy searching for attention.

    http://autositechecker.com/domain/yelp.com/biz/ocrv-center-anaheim-2

    May 13, 2021 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. I Fashion Styles

    One thing I want to touch upon is that weightloss system fast can be performed by the perfect diet and exercise. An individual's size not only affects appearance, but also the quality of life. Self-esteem, major depression, health risks, plus physical capabilities are disturbed in an increase in weight. It is possible to make everything right but still gain. If this happens, a medical problem may be the culprit. While excessive food rather than enough work out are usually the culprit, common health concerns and widely used prescriptions can easily greatly enhance size. Thanks a bunch for your post in this article.

    https://www.ifashionstyles.com

    May 13, 2021 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. RV Renovation Near Me

    http://autopartskart.com/buyfromamzon.php?url=http://youtube.com/channel/UCCWA5o3d2u11KvEjA3wLVUA/videos/

    May 13, 2021 at 14:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Sprinter Van Front Wiper Rust Repair

    http://aboutlincolncenter.org/component/dmms/handoff?back_url=https://fleetrepairshops.com/passenger-van-repair-shop-near-me

    May 13, 2021 at 23:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. frame repair shop near me

    Excellent post. I definitely appreciate this website. Keep it up!

    https://ams.ceu.edu/optimal/optimal.php?url=https://ocrvcenter.biz/rv-repair-shop-pico-rivera-california

    May 14, 2021 at 03:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. oc trailers & rvs inc

    Great information. Lucky me I came across your site by accident (stumbleupon). I've book marked it for later!

    http://ads.focus-news.net/click.php?id=707&url=https://ocrv.vip/freightliner-collision-repair-shop-near-me

    May 14, 2021 at 05:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. rv repair near me now

    https://monitor.clickcease.com/tracker/tracker?id=Tcmwi3RgKQiVSy&kw=yahoobacklinks&nw=g&url=https://ocrvandtrucks.com/rv-repair-shop-walnut-california

    May 14, 2021 at 12:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. homes for sale coeur d alene idaho

    I seriously love your blog.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you build this web site yourself? Please reply back as I’m wanting to create my very own website and would like to know where you got this from or what the theme is named. Thank you!

    http://neoromance.info/link/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=26&url=https://meganleary.com

    May 14, 2021 at 17:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. homes for sale twin lakes

    https://click.dsp.com/c?type=2&db=mediav&pub=120013_527433_1050746&cus=172_663_12717020_63096188_63096188000&url=https://www.meganleary.com

    May 14, 2021 at 18:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. auto paint shop orange county

    http://www.aquarist-classifieds.co.uk/BANNER-MANAGEMENT/click.php?id=44&url=https://www.ocrvcenter.co

    May 14, 2021 at 21:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Maui Jim Prescription Sunglasses

    https://searchpoint.net/redir.asp?reg_id=pTypes&sname=/search.asp&lid=1&sponsor=RES&url=https://arizonasvision.com

    May 14, 2021 at 23:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. RebfZisse

    new cialis commercial 2010 https://rcialisgl.com/ 100 mg cialis

    May 15, 2021 at 05:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. truck repair around me

    http://www.ycaistock.com/home/link.php?url=https://www.fleetservicerepairshop.com

    May 15, 2021 at 06:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. nearby realtor

    https://www.paltalk.com/client/webapp/client/External.wmt?url=https://meganleary.com/

    May 15, 2021 at 08:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Page Eye Center

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you so much, However I am experiencing difficulties with your RSS. I don’t know why I am unable to join it. Is there anybody getting similar RSS issues? Anyone who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanx!!

    http://tstz.com/link.php?url=https://arizonasvision.com/

    May 15, 2021 at 08:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. brimonidine

    brimonidine eye drops combigan uk

    May 15, 2021 at 10:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. best realtor near me

    https://www.kvinfo.dk/visit.php?linkType=2&linkValue=http://meganleary.com/

    May 15, 2021 at 12:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Suv Maserati

    http://f001.sublimestore.jp/trace.php?pr=default&aid=1&drf=13&bn=1&rd=https://club-maserati.com/

    May 15, 2021 at 12:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. 2014 Maserati Ghibli For Sale Near Me

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It will always be interesting to read content from other authors and use something from their websites.

    https://www.p-hero.com/hsee/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=88&url=https://www.club-maserati.com

    May 15, 2021 at 12:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Crave Freebies

    Magnificent items from you, man. I've take into account your stuff previous to and you are just extremely excellent. I actually like what you've received here, really like what you're saying and the way in which during which you are saying it. You are making it entertaining and you still care for to keep it wise. I cant wait to learn much more from you. This is really a wonderful web site.

    https://www.cravefreebies.com

    May 15, 2021 at 13:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Optometrist Tempe Az

    https://www.epubli.de/shop/buch/45209/go?link=https://arizonasvision.com

    May 15, 2021 at 15:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. GtnbCrulk

    visual viagra https://jokviagra.com/ does viagra raise blood pressure

    May 15, 2021 at 15:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Maserati Of Kirkland

    https://www.fudou-san.com/link/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=2898&url=https://www.club-maserati.com

    May 15, 2021 at 18:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. LbsoZisse

    cialis purchase online canada http://ucialisdas.com/ where to by cialis

    May 15, 2021 at 19:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. RebfZisse

    generic cialis india safe https://rcialisgl.com/ how long does cialis last

    May 15, 2021 at 21:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Video Marketing Near Me

    This is a topic which is near to my heart... Best wishes! Where are your contact details though?

    http://www.winplc7.com/download.php?Link=https://affordableranking.com/

    May 15, 2021 at 21:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. AnooEncox

    cadena ser viagra https://llviagra.com/ viagra en gebruik

    May 16, 2021 at 00:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Content Marketing California

    https://www.tossdown.com/city_change?city=Ottawa&url=http://www.affordableranking.com

    May 16, 2021 at 01:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Aika Pran

    http://www.info-az.net/search/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=675&url=http://www.aikareborn.com/wiki/rifleman_honor

    May 16, 2021 at 01:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. AnooEncox

    viagra szybka wysyЕ‚ka http://llviagra.com/ buy natural viagra

    May 16, 2021 at 03:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. aitan arena aika private server

    Everything is very open with a really clear explanation of the challenges. It was really informative. Your site is extremely helpful. Thanks for sharing!

    http://old2.mtp.pl/out/aikareborn.com/wiki/cleric_uniqe

    May 16, 2021 at 04:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Sprinter Side Door Repair

    https://5965d2776cddbc000ffcc2a1.tracker.adotmob.com/pixel/visite?d=5000&r=http://ziraattimes.com/2020/09/jk-admin-approvves-elections-to-1089-sarpanch-12168-panch-vacant-positions/

    May 16, 2021 at 11:47 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.