Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mind:  Buddhist Meditation Promotes Thinking Differently

It's no secret that humans are not entirely rational when it comes to weighing rewards. For example, we might be perfectly happy with how much money we're making — until we find out how much more the guy in the next cubicle is being paid.

But a new study suggests that people who regularly practice Buddhist meditation actually process these common social situations differently — and the researchers have the brain scans to prove it.

[In experiments] the [non-miditators] saw increased activity in a brain structure called the anterior insula when they were confronted with an unfair offer — an area linked to the emotion of disgust.

But the meditators' brains reacted quite differently, activating brain areas associated with interoception — the representation of the body's internal state. In fact, the researchers found very little overlap in the two groups' neural responses.

[Ulrich Kirk] also informally interviewed many of the meditators after they underwent the brain scans. They reported that the offers did not actually seem unfair, or rather, that ‘difference' doesn't equal unfairness, Kirk says. It was as if the perception of difference incites less reactivity in meditators.

For the experiments and more, see Study: Buddhist Meditation Promotes Rational Thinking by Michael Haederle, August 11, 2011 at Miller-McCune.

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