Brain scan meditation

From Andrew Newberg

Video Interview Transcript

This was a study that we did that looked at the long term effects of meditation on the brain and it showed a couple of specific things. So this is a person who had never meditated before, the a scan is the very first just their resting state of the brain. We taught them how to do a meditation practice called Kirtan Kriya which is a very simple singing kind of meditation. And this is what their brain looked like when they did it for the very first time. When they came back after two weeks we scanned their brain again at rest and then during the last meditation practice and a couple of specific changes that we saw here: One is the thalamus which again changes from being one side more or less active than the other to a substantial change after they have done this practice and this is their brain at rest. So these are permanent changes that are occurring in the brain itself. We also notice that the frontal lobes are more active, there's more red in here than what you see over here. So that their frontal lobe activity is turned on even when their brain is at rest and it gets back to one of the points we made earlier about the idea that, since the frontal lobe helps to regulate our emotional responses and is very involved in our feelings of love and compassion, by having a higher level of activity in the frontal lobe even when the person is not meditating, suggests that they have this greater sense of compassion and empathy going on all the time not just when they're doing the meditation practice. And of course when they are meditating their frontal lobes turn on and they thalamic activity changes as well, again signaling the notion that they are having a change in the way they perceive reality, the way they think about that reality that occurs not only during the meditation practice but even after that practice is over. It changes the way their brain works and changes the way they think about themselves and about the world around them.

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