HOW Meditation Can Make You Smarter! (SCIENCE)

May 16, 2014

Meditation activates parts of the brain making you smarter!




A new study claims that meditation activates parts of the brain that simple ‘relaxing’ cannot. People who meditate process more ideas and feelings than when they are just resting and letting your mind wander is more effective than concentrating on emptying your head of thoughts, scientists said.


Researchers from St Olavs Hospital in Trondheim, Norway, believe their findings – published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience – suggest that meditation is more than just a way to lower stress.


There are countless techniques such as Zen, Buddhist and transcendental meditation and these can be divided into two main groups known as ‘concentrative’ meditation where the person focuses on breathing and specific thoughts and ‘nondirective’ which allows the mind to wander as it pleases.



All the participants in the study had experience with a nondirective form of meditation practiced in Norway called Acem.


Using an MRI scanner, the experiment showed that the part of their brains dedicated to processing self-related thoughts and feelings were more active during the activity than at rest.

When test subjects performed concentrative meditation, the activity in this part of the brain was almost the same as when they were just resting.



Dr Jian Xu, of St Olavs, said: ‘I was surprised the activity of the brain was greatest when the person’s thoughts wandered freely on their own, rather than when the brain worked to be more strongly focused.

‘When the subjects stopped doing a specific task and were not really doing anything special, there was an increase in activity in the area of the brain where we process thoughts and feelings.

‘It is described as a kind of resting network. And it was this area that was most active during nondirective meditation.’



Professor Svend Davanger, of the University of Oslo, said: ‘The study indicates nondirective meditation allows for more room to process memories and emotions than during concentrated meditation.

‘This area of the brain has its highest activity when we rest. It represents a kind of basic operating system; a resting network that takes over when external tasks do not require our attention.

‘It is remarkable a mental task like nondirective meditation results in even higher activity in this network than regular rest.’



Professor Davanger is the only member of the research team to regularly meditate and he believes that good research depends on having a team that can combine personal experience of meditation with a critical attitude towards results.



‘Meditation is an activity practiced by millions of people. It is important we find out how this really works,’ he added.



Scientists have shown that a mere seven hours of brain training can make humans kinder and more likely to help those in need.

U.S. researchers have discovered that training people to be more compassionate actually changes their brains.

Scientists at the Waisman Centre at the University of Wisconsin-Madison used compassion mediation – an ancient Buddhist technique to increase caring feelings for people who are suffering – in their experiment.



People who had compassion training were compared to a control group that learned cognitive reappraisal, which is a technique where people learn to reframe their thoughts to feel less negative. The researchers then looked at whether people became more altruistic.



Participants in the experiment played a game on the internet in which they were given the opportunity to spend their own money in order to help out someone in need.



Lead author Helen Weng said: ‘We found that people trained in compassion were more likely to spend their own money altruistically to help someone who was treated unfairly than those who were trained in cognitive reappraisal.’

Compassion training also increased activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the extent to which it communicated with the nucleus accumbens, which are brain regions involved in emotion regulation and the production of positive emotions, MRI scans revealed.

Compassion, like physical and academic skills, appears to be something that is not fixed, but rather can be enhanced with training and practice.


Source: DailyMail




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Reader's Comments

  1. Can I recommend a fab book. Changed my life! Sue Palmer ‘Toxic Childhood’

    It covers 10 main issues with society but also how we can redress the balance. You’ll love it :)

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