Research – Meditation 2017-01-13T13:42:16+00:00

Research – Meditation

Matthieu Ricard, biochemist turned Buddhist monk, author and photographer, also dubbed “the happiest man in the world”, with neuroscientist Antoine Lutz, et al. found mental training techniques can induce short-term and long-term neural changes through comparing the brain scans of practising Buddhist meditation practitioners to those of a control group.

Read the study in full here:

Long-term meditators self-induce high-amplitude gamma synchrony during mental practice

Watch Ricard delivering a TEDtalk about the importance of happiness and training our minds in habits of well-being:

The Habits of Happiness

Find his website here:

Matthieu Ricard

(If you have any problems following links in our research, then please copy and paste the text from our footnote* into your browser top bar)

Barbara L. Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build theory suggests experiences of positive emotions broaden an individual’s momentary awareness and encourage novel and creative thoughts, actions and social bonds. This in turn builds their personal resources, from physical and intellectual to social and psychological resources, that can be drawn on later to improve successful coping and survival in challenging times.

To test the build hypothesis, Fredrickson et al. conducted a field experiment using 139 working adults with half of them practising 15-20 minute loving-kindness meditations (LKM) at least 5 times a week for seven weeks. The authors found those who practised the LKM technique saw an increase in daily experiences of positive emotions, which lead to an increase in the development of personal resources, such as seeing a greater purpose in life and decrease in illness symptoms.

Learn more about loving-kindness meditation and the results of the study here:

Open hearts build lives: Positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources

Follow these links for more on Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build theory:

The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions

The Role of Positive Emotions in Positive Psychology

If you would like to try a loving-kindness meditation for yourself, Barbara Fredrickson has provided a variety of free, recorded meditations to follow here:

Love 2.0

Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), collaborated with Davidson et al. to measure the electrical activity in brains of 25 participants before, immediately after, and four months following an eight-week training programme in mindfulness meditation. When compared to scans of the brains of a control group of non-meditators, they saw significant increases in left-sided anterior activation, a pattern previously associated with positive affect. The authors also found a significant increase in antibodies to an influenza vaccine in the meditating subjects, which correlated to the magnitude of the increase in the activation of the brain’s left side. The results suggest meditation not only can change the brain of a practising individual in positive ways but also the immune system.

Find the study here:

Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation

Find out more about Kabat-Zinn, the Centre for Mindfulness and his research behind mediation and mindfulness here:

Centre for Mindfulness

Britta Hölzel et al. conducted a longitudinal study to investigate the changes in the brain’s grey matter concentration, in the brains of 16 meditation-naïve participants who underwent an eight-week programme of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). The results of MRI scans showed an increase in grey matter concentration within the left hippocampus and other locations of the subjects’ brains. This suggests mindfulness meditation practice creates a change in brains associated with “learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking”.

Read the study here:

Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain grey matter density

Richard Davidson and Antoine Lutz discuss neuroplasticity, meditation and the findings of research into the brain imagining and behaviour of Tibetan Buddhist monks, recruited by the Dalai Lama:

Buddha’s Brain: Neuroplasticity and Meditation

Fox et al. have examined the impact of meditation on the brain’s structure further, reviewing and meta-analysing 123 brain morphology differences from 21 neuroimaging studies, examining 300 meditation practitioners.

Find the review here:

Is meditation associated with altered brain structure? A systematic review and meta-analysis of morphometric neuroimaging in meditation practitioners

Want more? Watch these videos:

Footnote*

(If you have any problems following links in our research, then please copy and paste the text below relating to the article you wish to see into your browser top bar)

Matthieu Ricard and Antoine Lutz, et al.
Long-term meditators self-induce high-amplitude gamma synchrony during mental practice
http://www.matthieuricard.org/en/articles/long-term-meditators-self-induce-high-amplitude-gamma-synchrony-during-mental-practice-by-antoine-lutz-matthieu-ricard-et-al-proceedings-of-the-national-academy-of-sciences-of-the-united-states-of-america-2004-101-46

The Habits of Happiness

Find Matthieu Ricard’s website
http://www.matthieuricard.org/en/

Barbara L. Fredrickson
Open hearts build lives: Positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3156028/

The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1693418/

The Role of Positive Emotions in Positive Psychology
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3122271/

Recorded meditations: Love 2.0
http://www.positivityresonance.com/meditations.html

Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and Davidson et al.
Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12883106

Centre for Mindfulness
http://www.umassmed.edu/cfm/

Britta Hölzel et al.
Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain grey matter density
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004979/

Richard Davidson and Antoine Lutz
Buddha’s Brain: Neuroplasticity and Meditation
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2944261/

Fox et al.
Is meditation associated with altered brain structure? A systematic review and meta-analysis of morphometric neuroimaging in meditation practitioners
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24705269

Shauna Shapiro video
http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/gg_live/science_meaningful_life_videos/speaker/shauna_shapiro/mindfulness_meditation_and_the_brain

Pico Iyer video
http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/gg_live/science_meaningful_life_videos/speaker/shauna_shapiro/mindfulness_meditation_and_the_brain