Tag Archives: Jon Kabat-Zinn

Eight-week mindfulness meditation program changes brain

1 Dec

A good account at The Harvard Gazette:

“Participating in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. In a study that will appear in the Jan. 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, a team led by Harvard-affiliated researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) reported the results of their study, the first to document meditation-produced changes over time in the brain’s gray matter.”

Here is the paper’s abstract:

“Therapeutic interventions that incorporate training in mindfulness meditation have become increasingly popular, but to date little is known about neural mechanisms associated with these interventions. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), one of the most widely used mindfulness training programs, has been reported to produce positive effects on psychological well-being and to ameliorate symptoms of a number of disorders. Here, we report a controlled longitudinal study to investigate pre–post changes in brain gray matter concentration attributable to participation in an MBSR program. Anatomical magnetic resonance (MR) images from 16 healthy, meditation-naïve participants were obtained before and after they underwent the 8-week program. Changes in gray matter concentration were investigated using voxel-based morphometry, and compared with a waiting list control group of 17 individuals. Analyses in a priori regions of interest confirmed increases in gray matter concentration within the left hippocampus. Whole brain analyses identified increases in the posterior cingulate cortex, the temporo-parietal junction, and the cerebellum in the MBSR group compared with the controls. The results suggest that participation in MBSR is associated with changes in gray matter concentration in brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.”

Here is Larry Terkel on the different types of meditation:


Mindfulness for judges?

10 Mar

An article published in The Monitor, a journal of the American Psychological Association, suggests that mindfulness meditation might lead to a better judicial system.

In this video Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn speaks about mindfulness:

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Technique for overcoming math anxiety

22 Jul

A majority of students report suffering from math anxiety. Now, a study published in the journal Learning and Individual Differences has found that a simple focused breathing technique may reduce math anxiety.

Thirty-six Tufts University students were tested on a time math test under a variety of interventions. One of the interventions was a form of mindful breathing suggested by the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn. The authors describe the technique this way:

“In this exercise, participants are guided through instructions and practice opportunities centered around an attentional focus on the sensations of the breath (inhalation and exhalation). For instance, participants are told to “tune into the feeling of the breath moving in and out of your body, focusing on the sensation of the breath moving past the nostrils; or alternatively, on the feeling of your belly expanding gently on each in-breath, and receding gently with each out-breath.” Participants are repeatedly encouraged to refocus to the breath if the mind wanders away from its sensations.”

They found this technique significantly decreased math anxiety and improved performance for those with high math anxiety. For these anxious students accuracy increased by 9%. In a school setting, this could mean almost the difference of an entire grade.

This is finding is in line with other research that suggests that mindfulness may improve memory.

The study also tested the effect of the amino acid  L-theanine, a substance found in tea. Some research has claimed that L-theanine might improve cognitive performance. In this study, however, L-theanine did not have a significant effect on math performance.

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