Monday, July 01, 2013

Enhanced emotion regulation persists after meditation training.

Desbordes and collaborators have looked at the effects of training in both mindful attention meditation and compassion meditation in two groups of subject with no previous experience meditating enrolled in 8-week training courses in both. 12 participants from each group reacted to images of people in situations with positive, negative, or neutral emotional content during fMRI measurements made during three weeks before or at three weeks after the training sessions. From the review in The Harvard Gazette:
In the mindful attention group, the after-training brain scans showed a decrease in activation in the right amygdala in response to all images, supporting the hypothesis that meditation can improve emotional stability and response to stress. In the compassion meditation group, right amygdala activity also decreased in response to positive or neutral images. But among those who reported practicing compassion meditation most frequently outside of the training sessions, right amygdala activity tended to increase in response to negative images, all of which depicted some form of human suffering. No significant changes were seen in the control group or in the left amygdala of any study participants.

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