Functional MRI shows how mindfulness meditation changes decision-making process

April 21, 2011

Science Daily/Virginia Tech

Neuroimaging research shows that Buddhist meditators use different areas of the brain than other people when confronted with unfair choices, enabling them to make decisions rationally rather than emotionally.

 

Their research shows that Buddhist meditators use different areas of the brain than other people when confronted with unfair choices, enabling them to make decisions rationally rather than emotionally. The meditators had trained their brains to function differently and make better choices in certain situations.

 

The research "highlights the clinically and socially important possibility that sustained training in mindfulness meditation may impact distinct domains of human decision making," the researchers write.

 

The researchers conclude, "Our results suggest that the lower-level interoceptive representation of the posterior insula is recruited based on individual trait levels in mindfulness. When assessing unfair offers, meditators seem to activate an almost entirely different network of brain areas than do normal controls. Controls draw upon areas involved in theory of mind, prospection, episodic memory, and fictive error. In contrast, meditators instead draw upon areas involved in interoception and attention to the present moment. …This study suggests that the trick may lie not in rational calculation, but in steering away from what-if scenarios, and concentrating on the interoceptive qualities that accompany any reward, no matter how small."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110420112328.htm

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