Friday, October 21, 2016
MINDFULNESS TRAINING IMPROVES YOUR BRAIN
A new systematic review has looked at all studies published prior to July this year that investigated brain changes associated with 8 weeks of mindfulness-based stress reduction or mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.
The combined results suggest that a short course of secular mindfulness training leads to multiple brain changes similar in nature to those seen in people who have practised religious or spiritual meditation for a lifetime.
Rinske Gotink [pictured left] and her colleagues found 30 relevant studies that used MRI or fMRI brain imaging to look at the effects of mindfulness training on brain structure and function, including 13 randomly controlled trials.
Associated brain changes, in terms of activity levels and volume and connectivity changes, have been reported in the prefrontal cortex (a region associated with conscious decision making and emotional regulation and other functions), the insula cortex (which represents internal body states among other things), the cingulate cortex (decision making), the hippocampus (memory) and the amygdala (emotion).
Based on what we know about the function of these brain regions, Gotink’s team said these changes appear to be consistent with the idea that mindfulness helps your brain regulate your emotions.
Study: Gotink, R A et al. ‘8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction induces brain changes similar to traditional long-term meditation practice – A systematic review.’ . , Oct 2016, pp 32-41. Available online 16 Jul 2016.
Acknowledgments. This post is based on material appearing on the Readers Digest blog of the British Psychological Society.