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10–12 hours of meditation training can improve daily-life emotional regulation

Med­i­ta­tion Appears to Pro­duce Endur­ing Changes in Emo­tion­al Pro­cess­ing in the Brain (Sci­ence Dai­ly):

A new study has found that par­tic­i­pat­ing in an 8‑week med­i­ta­tion train­ing pro­gram can have mea­sur­able effects on how the brain func­tions even when some­one is not active­ly meditating…While neu­roimag­ing stud­ies have found that med­i­ta­tion train­ing appeared to decrease acti­va­tion of the amyg­dala — a struc­ture at the base of the brain that is known to have a role in pro­cess­ing mem­o­ry and emo­tion — those changes were only observed while study par­tic­i­pants were med­i­tat­ing. The cur­rent study was designed to test the hypoth­e­sis that med­i­ta­tion train­ing could also pro­duce a gen­er­al­ized reduc­tion in amyg­dala response to emo­tion­al stimuli…“We think these two forms of med­i­ta­tion cul­ti­vate dif­fer­ent aspects of mind,” Des­bor­des explains. “Since com­pas­sion med­i­ta­tion is designed to enhance com­pas­sion­ate feel­ings, it makes sense that it could increase amyg­dala response to see­ing peo­ple suf­fer. Increased amyg­dala acti­va­tion was also cor­re­lat­ed with decreased depres­sion scores in the com­pas­sion med­i­ta­tion group, which sug­gests that hav­ing more com­pas­sion towards oth­ers may also be ben­e­fi­cial for one­self. Over­all, these results are con­sis­tent with the over­ar­ch­ing hypoth­e­sis that med­i­ta­tion may result in endur­ing, ben­e­fi­cial changes in brain func­tion, espe­cial­ly in the area of emo­tion­al pro­cess­ing.”

Study: Effects of mind­ful-atten­tion and com­pas­sion med­i­ta­tion train­ing on amyg­dala response to emo­tion­al stim­uli in an ordi­nary, non-med­i­ta­tive state (Fron­tiers in Human Neu­ro­science)

  • Abstract: The amyg­dala has been repeat­ed­ly impli­cat­ed in emo­tion­al pro­cess­ing of both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive-valence stim­uli. Pre­vi­ous stud­ies sug­gest that the amyg­dala response to emo­tion­al stim­uli is low­er when the sub­ject is in a med­i­ta­tive state of mind­ful-atten­tion, both in begin­ner med­i­ta­tors after an 8‑week med­i­ta­tion inter­ven­tion and in expert med­i­ta­tors. How­ev­er, the lon­gi­tu­di­nal effects of med­i­ta­tion train­ing on amyg­dala respons­es have not been report­ed when par­tic­i­pants are in an ordi­nary, non-med­i­ta­tive state. In this study, we inves­ti­gat­ed how 8 weeks of train­ing in med­i­ta­tion affects amyg­dala respons­es to emo­tion­al stim­uli in sub­jects when in a non-med­i­ta­tive state. Healthy adults with no pri­or med­i­ta­tion expe­ri­ence took part in 8 weeks of either Mind­ful Atten­tion Train­ing (MAT), Cog­ni­tive­ly-Based Com­pas­sion Train­ing (CBCT; a pro­gram based on Tibetan Bud­dhist com­pas­sion med­i­ta­tion prac­tices), or an active con­trol inter­ven­tion. Before and after the inter­ven­tion, par­tic­i­pants under­went an fMRI exper­i­ment dur­ing which they were pre­sent­ed images with pos­i­tive, neg­a­tive, and neu­tral emo­tion­al valences from the IAPS data­base while remain­ing in an ordi­nary, non-med­i­ta­tive state. Using a region-of-inter­est analy­sis, we found a lon­gi­tu­di­nal decrease in right amyg­dala acti­va­tion in the Mind­ful Atten­tion group in response to pos­i­tive images, and in response to images of all valences over­all. In the CBCT group, we found a trend increase in right amyg­dala response to neg­a­tive images, which was sig­nif­i­cant­ly cor­re­lat­ed with a decrease in depres­sion score. No effects or trends were observed in the con­trol group. This find­ing sug­gests that the effects of med­i­ta­tion train­ing on emo­tion­al pro­cess­ing might trans­fer to non-med­i­ta­tive states. This is con­sis­tent with the hypoth­e­sis that med­i­ta­tion train­ing may induce learn­ing that is not stim­u­lus- or task-spe­cif­ic, but process-spe­cif­ic, and there­by may result in endur­ing changes in men­tal func­tion.
  • Amount of med­i­ta­tion prac­tice: The total report­ed dura­tion of med­i­ta­tion prac­tice in the MAT group was 645 ± 340 min­utes (mean ± stan­dard devi­a­tion, N = 12), rang­ing from 210 to 1491 min­utes. In the CBCT group it was 454 ± 205 min­utes (N = 12), rang­ing from 190 to 905 min­utes.
  • Med­i­ta­tion pro­to­colsMind­ful Atten­tion Train­ing (MAT), Cog­ni­tive­ly-Based Com­pas­sion Train­ing (CBCT)

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