Mindfulness Meditation 5

Mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy decreases PTSD symptom severity among veterans

August 4, 2015

Science Daily/The JAMA Network Journals

In a randomized trial that included veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), those who received mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy showed greater improvement in self-reported PTSD symptom severity, although the average improvement appears to have been modest, according to a study.

 

Posttraumatic stress disorder affects 23 percent of veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Left untreated, PTSD is associated with high rates of other disorders, disability, and poor quality of life. Evidence suggests that mindfulness-based stress reduction, an intervention that teaches individuals to attend to the present moment in a nonjudgmental, accepting manner, can result in reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. By encouraging acceptance of thoughts, feelings, and experiences without avoidance, mindfulness-based interventions target experiential avoidance, a key factor in the development and maintenance of PTSD, and may be an acceptable type of intervention for veterans who have poor adherence to existing treatments for PTSD, according to background information in the article.

 

Melissa A. Polusny, Ph.D., of the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Health Care System, and colleagues randomly assigned 116 veterans with PTSD to receive nine sessions of mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy (n = 58) or present-centered group therapy (n = 58), an active-control condition consisting of nine weekly group sessions focused on current life problems. Outcomes were assessed before, during, and after treatment and at 2-month follow-up.

 

Participants in the mindfulness-based stress reduction group demonstrated greater improvement in self-reported PTSD symptom severity during treatment and at 2-month follow-up. Although participants in the mindfulness-based stress reduction group were more likely to show clinically significant improvement in self-reported PTSD symptom severity (49 percent vs 28 percent with present-centered group therapy) at 2-month follow-up, there was no difference in rates of loss of PTSD diagnosis at posttreatment (42 percent vs 44 percent) or at 2-month follow-up (53 percent vs 47 percent).

 

"Findings from the present study provide support for the efficacy of mindfulness-based stress reduction for the treatment of PTSD among veterans," the researchers write. "However, the magnitude of the average improvement suggests a modest effect."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150804142744.htm

Breast cancer survivors benefit from practicing mindfulness-based stress reduction

December 29, 2011

Science Daily/University of Missouri-Columbia

Women recently diagnosed with breast cancer have higher survival rates than those diagnosed in previous decades, according to new research. However, survivors continue to face health challenges after their treatments end. Previous research reports as many as 50 percent of breast cancer survivors are depressed. Now, researchers say a meditation technique can help breast cancer survivors improve their emotional and physical well-being.

 

Yaowarat Matchim, a former nursing doctoral student; Jane Armer, professor of nursing; and Bob Stewart, professor emeritus of education and adjunct faculty in nursing, found that breast cancer survivors' health improved after they learned Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), a type of mindfulness training that incorporates meditation, yoga and physical awareness.

 

"MBSR is another tool to enhance the lives of breast cancer survivors," Armer said. "Patients often are given a variety of options to reduce stress, but they should choose what works for them according to their lifestyles and belief systems."

 

"Post diagnosis, breast cancer patients often feel like they have no control over their lives," Armer said. "Knowing that they can control something -- such as meditation -- and that it will improve their health, gives them hope that life will be normal again."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111229203000.htm

Stress reduction and mindful eating curb weight gain among overweight women

December 7, 2011

Science Daily/University of California - San Francisco

Mastering simple mindful eating and stress-reduction techniques helped prevent weight gain even without dieting in overweight women.

 

In a study by UCSF researchers published online in the Journal of Obesity, mastering simple mindful eating and stress-reduction techniques helped prevent weight gain even without dieting.

 

Women in the study who experienced the greatest reduction in stress tended to have the most loss of deep belly fat. To a greater degree than fat that lies just under the skin, this deep abdominal fat is associated with an elevated risk for developing heart disease or diabetes.

"You're training the mind to notice, but to not automatically react based on habitual patterns -- to not reach for a candy bar in response to feeling anger, for example," said UCSF researcher Jennifer Daubenmier, PhD, from the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. "If you can first recognize what you are feeling before you act, you have a greater chance of making a wiser decision."

 

Daubenmier led the current study with UCSF psychologist Elissa Epel, PhD. The study, published online in October, is part of ongoing UCSF research into how stress and the stress hormone cortisol are linked to eating behavior, fat and health.

 

Recognizing Sensations of Hunger, Fullness and Taste Satisfaction

The women who participated were not on calorie-counting diets. Instead, 24 of the 47 chronically stressed, overweight and obese women were randomly assigned to mindfulness training and practice, and the other 23 served as a control group. Although no diets were prescribed, all participants attended one session about the basics of healthy eating and exercise.

 

The training included nine weekly sessions, each lasting 2 1/2 hours, during which the women learned stress reduction techniques and how to be more aware of their eating by recognizing bodily sensations -- including hunger, fullness and taste satisfaction. At week six they attended an intensive seven-hour, silent meditation retreat.

 

They were asked to set aside 30 minutes daily for meditation exercises and to practice mindful eating during meals. Researchers used a scientifically tested survey to gauge psychological stress before and after the four-month study, and recorded the women's fat and cortisol levels.

 

Among women in the treatment group, changes in body awareness, chronic stress, cortisol secretion and abdominal fat were clearly linked. Those who had greater improvements in listening to their bodies' cues, or greater reductions in stress or cortisol, experienced the greatest reductions in abdominal fat.

 

Among the subset of obese women in the study, those who received the mindfulness training had significant reductions in cortisol after awakening and also maintained their total body weight, compared to women in the waitlist group, who had stable cortisol levels and continued to gain weight.

 

In a separate, ongoing study with lower-income, pregnant women who are overweight, Epel,Daubenmier and colleagues are teaching similar mindful-eating techniques. Pregnancy is a time when heavy women tend to gain an excessive amount of weight and later find it very hard to lose it. Furthermore, excessive weight gain during pregnancy can harm the baby's health.

 

"We are intervening at a critical point, when the health of the next generation is being shaped,"Epel said. "We hope to improve the health of both the mothers and their babies."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111207152418.htm

Don't worry, be happy: Understanding mindfulness meditation

November 1, 2011

Science Daily/Association for Psychological Science

 

In times of stress, we're often encouraged to pause for a moment and simply be in the 'now.' This kind of mindfulness, an essential part of Buddhist and Indian Yoga traditions, has entered the mainstream as people try to find ways to combat stress and improve their quality of life. And research suggests that mindfulness meditation can have benefits for health and performance, including improved immune function, reduced blood pressure, and enhanced cognitive function.

But how is it that a single practice can have such wide-ranging effects on well-being? A new article published in the latest issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, draws on the existing scientific literature to build a framework that can explain these positive effects.

The goal of this work, according to author Britta Hölzel, of Justus Liebig University and Harvard Medical School, is to "unveil the conceptual and mechanistic complexity of mindfulness, providing the 'big picture' by arranging many findings like the pieces of a mosaic." By using a framework approach to understand the mechanisms of mindfulness, Hölzel and her co-authors point out that what we think of as mindfulness is not actually a single skill. Rather, it is a multi-faceted mental practice that encompasses several mechanisms.

The authors specifically identify four key components of mindfulness that may account for its effects: attention regulation, body awareness, emotion regulation, and sense of self. Together, these components help us attend to and deal with the mental and physiological effects of stress in ways that are non-judgmental.

Although these components are theoretically distinct, they are closely intertwined. Improvement in attention regulation, for example, may directly facilitate our awareness of our physiological state. Body awareness, in turn, helps us to recognize the emotions we are experiencing. Understanding the relationships between these components, and the brain mechanisms that underlie them, will allow clinicians to better tailor mindfulness interventions for their patients, says Hölzel.

On the most fundamental level, this framework underscores the point that mindfulness is not a vague cure-all. Effective mindfulness meditation requires training and practice and it has distinct measurable effects on our subjective experiences, our behavior, and our brain function. The authors hope that further research on this topic will "enable a much broader spectrum of individuals to utilize mindfulness meditation as a versatile tool to facilitate change -- both in psychotherapy and in everyday life."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111031154134.htm

Spiritual retreat can lower depression, raise hope in heart patients

August 1, 2011

Science Daily/University of Michigan Health System

 

Attending a non-denominational spiritual retreat can help patients with severe heart trouble feel less depressed and more hopeful about the future, a University of Michigan Health System study has found.

Heart patients who participated in a four-day retreat that included techniques such as meditation, guided imagery, drumming, journal writing and outdoor activities saw immediate improvement in tests measuring depression and hopefulness. Those improvements persisted at three- and six-month follow-up measurements.

The study was the first randomized clinical trial to demonstrate an intervention that raises hope in patients with acute coronary syndrome, a condition that includes chest pain and heart attack. Previous research has shown that hope and its opposite, hopelessness, have an impact on how patients face uncertain futures.

"The study shows that a spiritual retreat like the Medicine for the Earth program can jumpstart and help to maintain a return to psycho-spiritual well-being," says study lead author Sara Warber, M.D., associate professor of family medicine at the U-M Medical School and director of U-M's Integrative Medicine program. "These types of interventions may be of particular interest to patients who do not want to take antidepressants for the depression symptoms that often accompany coronary heart disease and heart attack."

The findings were published in the July issue of Explore: the Journal of Science and Healing.

The retreat group was compared to two other groups: one received standard cardiac care and the other participated in a lifestyle change retreat run by the U-M Cardiovascular Center that focused on nutrition, physical exercise and stress management.

The spiritual retreat portion of the study was conducted at the Windrise Retreat Center in Metamora, Michigan, about 50 miles north of Detroit. In the Medicine for the Earth program, participants are encouraged to see themselves as part of an interconnected web of life. The approach is founded on the work of co-author Sandra Ingerman, M.A., who wrote the book Medicine for the Earth: How to Transform Personal and Environmental Toxins, which emphasizes principles of love, harmony, beauty, unity and peace.

The study used a number of standard mental and physical benchmarks to assess the success of the program.

The spiritual retreat group went from a baseline score of 12 on the Beck Depression Inventory, indicating mild to moderate depression, to an improved score of 6 immediately afterward, a 50-percent reduction. Their scores remained that low half a year later. The lifestyle group saw their scores drop from 11 to 7 and remain there. The control group's score started at 8 and went down to 6.

Participants also showed marked improvement in their scores on a test measuring hope. Scores on the State Hope Scale can range from 6 to 48, with higher scores indicating greater hope. All three study groups started with average scores between 34 and 36. After the spiritual retreat, participants' average scores rose and stayed at 40 or above, while the other two groups' averages remained significantly lower, ranging from 35 to 38, three and six months later.

"Our work adds an important spiritual voice to the current discussion of the importance of psychological well-being for patients facing serious medical issues, such as acute coronary artery disease," Warber says.

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110801094724.htm

Yoga boosts stress-busting hormone, reduces pain

July 27, 2011

Science Daily/York University

A new study finds that practicing yoga reduces the physical and psychological symptoms of chronic pain in women with fibromyalgia. The study is the first to look at the effects of yoga on cortisol levels in women with fibromyalgia. Participants' saliva revealed elevated levels of total cortisol following a program of 75 minutes of hatha yoga twice weekly over the course of eight weeks.

 

The study is the first to look at the effects of yoga on cortisol levels in women with fibromyalgia. The condition, which predominantly affects women, is characterized by chronic pain and fatigue; common symptoms include muscle stiffness, sleep disturbances, gastrointestinal discomfort, anxiety and depression.

 

Previous research has found that women with fibromyalgia have lower-than-average cortisol levels, which contribute to pain, fatigue and stress sensitivity. According to the study, participants' saliva revealed elevated levels of total cortisol following a program of 75 minutes of hatha yoga twice weekly over the course of eight weeks.

 

"Ideally, our cortisol levels peak about 30-40 minutes after we get up in the morning and decline throughout the day until we're ready to go to sleep," says the study's lead author, Kathryn Curtis, a PhD student in York's Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health. "The secretion of the hormone, cortisol, is dysregulated in women with fibromyalgia" she says.

 

Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced and released by the adrenal gland and functions as a component of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in response to stress.

 

"Hatha yoga promotes physical relaxation by decreasing activity of the sympathetic nervous system, which lowers heart rate and increases breath volume. We believe this in turn has a positive effect on the HPA axis," says Curtis.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110727131421.htm

Meditation practice may have potential to change brain's physical structure

July 14, 2011

Science Daily/University of California - Los Angeles

Researchers have found that long time meditators have stronger connections between brain regions, and show less age-related atrophy when compared to a control group. Having stronger connections influences the ability to rapidly relay electrical signals in the brain. And significantly, these effects are evident throughout the entire brain, not just in specific areas.

 

Two years ago, researchers at UCLA found that specific regions in the brains of long-term meditators were larger and had more gray matter than the brains of individuals in a control group. This suggested that meditation may indeed be good for all of us since, alas, our brains shrink naturally with age.


Now, a follow-up study suggests that people who meditate also have stronger connections between brain regions and show less age-related brain atrophy. Having stronger connections influences the ability to rapidly relay electrical signals in the brain. And significantly, these effects are evident throughout the entire brain, not just in specific areas.

 

Results showed pronounced structural connectivity in meditators throughout the entire brain's pathways. The greatest differences between the two groups were seen within the corticospinal tract (a collection of axons that travel between the cerebral cortex of the brain and the spinal cord); the superior longitudinal fasciculus (long bi-directional bundles of neurons connecting the front and the back of the cerebrum); and the uncinate fasciculus (white matter that connects parts of the limbic system, such as the hippocampus and amygdala, with the frontal cortex).

 

"It is possible that actively meditating, especially over a long period of time, can induce changes on a micro-anatomical level," said Luders, herself a meditator. As a consequence, she said, the robustness of fiber connections in meditators may increase and possibly lead to the macroscopic effects seen by DTI.

 

"Meditation, however, might not only cause changes in brain anatomy by inducing growth but also by preventing reduction," Luders said. "That is, if practiced regularly and over years, meditation may slow down aging-related brain atrophy, perhaps by positively affecting the immune system."

 

"It's possible that meditators might have brains that are fundamentally different to begin with," Luders said. "For example, a particular brain anatomy may have drawn an individual to meditation or helped maintain an ongoing practice -- meaning that the enhanced fiber connectivity in meditators constitutes a predisposition towards meditation, rather than being the consequence of the practice."

 

Still, she said, "Meditation appears to be a powerful mental exercise with the potential to change the physical structure of the brain at large. Collecting evidence that active, frequent and regular meditation practices cause alterations of white-matter fiber tracts that are profound and sustainable may become relevant for patient populations suffering from axonal demyelination and white-matter atrophy."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110714091940.htm

Teaching the Neurons to Meditate

July 10, 2011

Science Daily/Association for Psychological Science

In the late 1990s, Jane Anderson was working as a landscape architect. That meant she didn't work much in the winter, and she struggled with seasonal affective disorder in the dreary Minnesota winter months. She decided to try meditation and noticed a change within a month. "My experience was a sense of calmness, of better ability to regulate my emotions," she says. Her experience inspired a new study which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, which finds changes in brain activity after only five weeks of meditation training.

Previous studies have found that Buddhist monks, who have spent tens of thousands of hours of meditating, have different patterns of brain activity. But Anderson, who did this research as an undergraduate student together with a team of University of Wisconsin-Stout faculty and students, wanted to know if they could see a change in brain activity after a shorter period.

 

At the beginning of the study, each participant had an EEG, a measurement of the brain's electrical activity. They were told: "Relax with your eyes closed, and focus on the flow of your breath at the tip of your nose; if a random thought arises, acknowledge the thought and then simply let it go by gently bringing your attention back to the flow of your breath."

Then 11 people were invited to take part in meditation training, while the other 10 were told they would be trained later. The 11 were offered two half-hour sessions a week, and encouraged to practice as much as they could between sessions, but there wasn't any particular requirement for how much they should practice.

After five weeks, the researchers did an EEG on each person again. Each person had done, on average, about seven hours of training and practice. But even with that little meditation practice, their brain activity was different from the 10 people who hadn't had training yet. People who had done the meditation training showed a greater proportion of activity in the left frontal region of the brain in response to subsequent attempts to meditate. Other research has found that this pattern of brain activity is associated with positive moods.

The shift in brain activity "was clearly evident even with a small number of subjects," says Christopher Moyer, one of Anderson's coauthors at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. "If someone is thinking about trying meditation and they were thinking, 'It's too big of a commitment, it's going to take too much rigorous training before it has an effect on my mind,' this research suggests that's not the case." For those people, meditation might be worth a try, he says. "It can't hurt and it might do you a lot of good."

"I think this implies that meditation is likely to create a shift in outlook toward life," Anderson says. "It has really worked for me."

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110707173321.htm

Tai chi could help overcome cognitive effects of chemotherapy

June 7, 2011

Science Daily/University of Missouri-Columbia

Previous studies have indicated that a significant number of patients who receive chemotherapy also experience cognitive declines, including decreases in verbal fluency and memory. Now, one psychologist has found evidence that indicates Tai Chi, a Chinese martial art, might help overcome some of those problems.

 

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 11.4 million Americans are currently living with cancer. While cancer treatments are plentiful, many have negative side effects. Previous studies have indicated that a significant number of patients who receive chemotherapy also experience cognitive declines, including decreases in verbal fluency and memory. Now, one University of Missouri health psychologist has found evidence that indicates Tai Chi, a Chinese martial art, might help overcome some of those problems.

 

"Scientists have known for years that Tai Chi positively impacts physical and emotional health, but this small study also uncovered evidence that it might help cognitive functioning as well," said Stephanie Reid-Arndt, assistant professor and chair of the Department of Health Psychology in the School of Health Professions. "We know this activity can help people with their quality of life in general, and with this new study, we are encouraged about how Tai Chi could also help those who have received chemotherapy. I also hope this encourages more people to think about Tai Chi positively on a broader scale in their lives."

 

"Tai Chi really helps individuals focus their attention, and this study also demonstrates how good Tai Chi could be for anyone, whether or not they have undergone treatment for cancer," Reid-Arndt said. "Due to the small size of this study, we really need to test a larger group of individuals to gain a better understanding of the specific benefits of this activity for patients who have been treated with chemotherapy and how significant these improvements might be."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110606152208.htm

 

Health-care providers are prescribing nontraditional medicine: Use of mind-body therapies on the rise

May 11, 2011

Science Daily/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Prior research suggests that mind-body therapies, while used by millions of patients, is still on the fringe of mainstream medical care in America. New research suggests that attitudes are changing.

 

Prior research suggests that MBT, while used by millions of patients, is still on the fringe of mainstream medical care in America. New research suggests that attitudes are changing.

In a study from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Harvard Medical School, researchers found that one in 30 Americans using MBT has been referred by a medical provider.

 

"There's good evidence to support using mind-body therapies clinically," said lead author Aditi Nerurkar, MD, Integrative Medicine Fellow, Harvard Medical School and BIDMC. "Still, we didn't expect to see provider referral rates that were quite so high."

 

The results of the study appear in the May 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

 

Nerurkar and her colleagues collected information from more than 23,000 U.S. households from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey. They found that nearly 3 percent (representing more than 6.3 million Americans) used MBT due to provider referral and that these Americans were sicker and used the health care system more than people who self-referred for MBT.

 

"What we learned suggests that providers are referring their patients for mind-body therapies as a last resort once conventional therapeutic options have failed. It makes us wonder whether referring patients for these therapies earlier in the treatment process could lead to less use of the health care system, and possibly, better outcomes for these patients," said Nerurkar.

 

"These data suggest that mind-body therapies have really become a mainstream approach to care," adds Russell Phillips, MD, Chief of Primary Care at BIDMC and the senior author on the study. "But more research is needed to guide physician and patient decision-making regarding their use.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110509161642.htm

 

More knowledge not always helpful for women dealing with heart disease

May 4, 2011

Science Daily/Ohio State University

 

Women with congestive heart failure who repress their emotions, especially anger, are more likely than emotionally expressive women to experience symptoms of depression associated with knowledge about their disease, according to new research.

Coping styles of women in the study influenced how depressed or anxious they felt. The less they talked about or expressed their emotions, the more likely they were to have symptoms of depression and anxiety.

When Ohio State University researchers examined the influence of knowledge about their illness on the patients' mental well-being, they found that some women with heart failure felt worse emotionally when they had more information about the disease. For those women -- who tend to deny their emotions -- less information is better. For them, certain types of knowledge can actually lower their emotional quality of life, according to the research.

The findings of this pilot study suggest that clinicians should consider patients' individual coping styles when educating them about their illness, the researchers say. For example, women who cope by denying their emotions might become particularly distressed by information that provokes fear -- such as learning about the increased risk of hospitalization as a consequence of not taking medication or exercising enough.

"We're not saying knowledge is not a good thing," said Charles Emery, professor of psychology at Ohio State and co-author of the study. "For patients who are greater in denial, knowledge seemed to be a negative factor. Whereas for people who either had difficulty expressing emotion or putting a label on their emotion, knowledge is still beneficial."

Emery co-authored the study with Jamie Jackson, a former Ohio State graduate student who is now a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University. The study is published in a recent issue of the journal Heart & Lung.

The study involved 35 women diagnosed with at least stage C congestive heart failure as categorized by the American College of Cardiology, meaning they had structural heart damage, experienced symptoms that might include shortness of breath and swelling in the legs and abdomen, and were managing the disease with medication. Heart failure is a condition in which the heart muscle is weakened, resulting in reduced blood flow throughout the body.

The researchers asked the participants to complete a number of questionnaires to measure their coping styles, illness knowledge, emotional quality of life and physical quality of life.

Women's coping styles were categorized in three ways: anger-in, or a tendency to withhold angry emotions; alexithymia, or difficulty identifying and describing feelings; and emotional expressivity, which could be either low or high.

Overall, the women reported elevated symptoms of depression and anxiety compared to national data on these symptoms in healthy adults.

Depressive symptoms -- which can include loneliness, sadness, fear, sleep problems and an unshakable sense of the "blues" -- as well as anxiety symptoms were associated with repression of anger, difficulty describing feelings and low emotional expressivity. Those with a higher level of emotional expression were less likely to report depressive symptoms.

"The basic idea is very simple: that in general, it is better to express your emotions than to hold them in," said Emery, also an investigator in Ohio State's Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research. "The correlations in this paper are exactly what one would expect."

And when the researchers then factored in how much the women knew about their illness, a clear link emerged between higher knowledge and more depressive symptoms in women who repressed their anger.

"These are women who would not want to deal with their negative emotions. I think the reason we're seeing this pattern is that if you're scared about your health condition, and you're confronted with more and more information, that makes it more real to you," Jackson said. "If you're somebody who doesn't want to acknowledge the emotion around the situation, it may result in reacting with greater negative emotion.

"In this particular study, depressive symptoms are where we see the effect."

On the other hand, women who had trouble describing their emotions felt more anxious if they had less knowledge about their illness than did women with similar coping traits who had greater knowledge.

The study showed no indication that coping style and illness knowledge influenced the patients' physical quality of life.

Emery noted that the education patients receive about an illness is critical to keeping them informed about the best ways to maintain their health. So ensuring that patients receive the information in a way that preserves their emotional health is likely to encourage greater compliance with doctors' orders, he said.

"The longer-term purpose of this line of research is to better predict which patient is going to benefit from which kind of intervention," he said. "Even with a high-denial patient, we would still embrace using knowledge. But we might identify non-aversive ways of presenting them with the knowledge."

The researchers suggest in the paper that clinicians may want to consider using mindfulness strategies for patients who tend to repress anger or have trouble describing their feelings. This technique helps people monitor their emotional response and observe their thoughts without judgment, said Jackson, who has been trained to provide mindfulness-based interventions in a clinical setting.

"Mindfulness encourages people to be comfortable with living in the moment with whatever emotional experience they're having," she said. "If we can help patients do that, they might be more receptive to information about their condition, and might have a better quality of life in general."

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110504111141.htm

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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