Study supports benefits of meditation in control of attention and emotions

From News Medical - February 24, 2018

The study's findings show that mental silence experienced through Sahaja Yoga meditation is associated with the development of neural networks and areas that are crucial for the control of attention and emotions.

A study on the human brain in a state of mental silence in meditation supports the benefits of this discipline in the control of attention and emotions. The research carried out by the University of La Laguna (ULL), in collaboration with the Universitat Jaume I of Castell (UJI), the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences of Leipzig and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience of King's College London, has recently been published in the journal Neuroscience. The researchers of these centers, led by the lecturer Sergio Elas Hernndez of the ULL, have spent eight years doing research on this state of mental silence from the perspective of neuroscience and health.

It is said that meditation is, among other things, a physiological state of reduced metabolic activity, different from sleep, which causes physical and mental relaxation and improves psychological balance and emotional stability. In Western psychology, three states of consciousness are described: dream, daydream and wakefulness. In Eastern philosophy and in several Western religious and mystical traditions, an additional and supposedly "higher" state of consciousness has been described, the so-called "fourth state of consciousness," also called "state of mental silence" or "consciousness without thoughts", or "nirvichara samadhi" in Sanskrit.

In addition to the interest that meditation has always aroused for personal growth, the positive results of meditation in the treatment of mental disorders such as stress, depression or anxiety, among others, have greatly impelled the scientific study of meditation in its different facets and versions.

The study published in the journal Neuroscience was conducted in the magnetic resonance scanner of the University of La Laguna, where researchers recorded brain anatomy and functional connectivity in a state of mental silence during meditation (functional connectivity is a neuroimaging technique showing how different brain areas cooperate to perform functions). For the aforementioned study, 23 expert meditating volunteers participated in Sahaja Yoga meditation, together with a group of 23 non-meditating volunteers with whom brain anatomy was compared. Both groups were very similar or equivalent in age, educational level, ethnic origin, etc.


Continue reading at News Medical »