Scientific American Just put out a decent summary of the current neuroscience research on meditation written by friends, Matthieu Ricard, Antoine Lutz, and Richie Davidson. Interestingly, the article also points out some of the morphological changes noted in a recent meta-analyses done by Kiran Fox HERE. Now, we take pride for being total yogadorks here, and sometimes we even find ourselves sitting in a proper geek meditation to clear the cache.
Thanks to the creatively geeky minds at MAKE this infographic provides a look inside the undulations of brain waves as we meditate. The brain produces varying proportions of brain wave types, depending on its current levels of relaxation, focus, and other mental states. I would love to play more with sounds and lights to educate the brain to the path of relaxation.
If you have any more infos on studies on sound and lights and their effect on the brain , would be very interested !
So if you were worried about the compassion demons invading your brain and stealing your soul during meditation, you can rest assured that only happens after a sinful round of sun salutes and a few minutes of playing dead. Although a common trope in reporting on science, a good scientist does not try to prove something, rather the goal is to test a hypothesis and report the results regardless of one’s pet hypothesis.
Yeah, it is both awesome and frustrating that we are able to gain empirical evidence on the benefits of meditation, and that some need this evidence to believe that it is actually good for them.
Our culture is SO far away from posessing skills for well living that is going to take another 5000 years to get back to the beginning so we may start again. Meditation is a practice that I teach in and out of my classrooms, on and off the yoga mat. Now I can convince my non-yogi friends that meditation is actually beneficial and that the book is worth reading! Increased melatonin production – Studies have shown dramatic almost 100% increases in the brain’s production of melatonin.
August 24, 2010 by Marsha Lucas, PhD 3 Comments Excellent brief article on meditation and neuroplasticity.
Brain researchers have also found that the brain can be changed in a positive direction through healthy lifestyle choices. When the different parts of the brain are better integrated they work together more harmoniously — our brain is healthier. When a person transcends during meditation (goes beyond the active levels of the mind), the experience is commonly reported as a state of deep silence and inner wakefulness, without particular qualities or attributes — just pure consciousness.

With help from the David Lynch Foundation and other private benefactors, thousands of at-risk students are now learning meditation during structured, in-school programs around the world.
Reorientation of awarenesss than involves dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and anterior inferior parietal lobe. The study found the frontopolar cortex and anterior insula were 2 brain regions with neuroplastic changes most often found in such studies of meditators.
But, while many of us are familiar with the effect meditation has on our mood, temper and attitude from our own experience with the practice, do you know what actually happens in the waves of your noggin? Each type of wave has its own characteristic frequency range, which can be read by electroencephalography. Thanks so much for posting–what a great bit of info to explain the science behind why we meditate!!
However, for the record, the neurodymanics of meditation are nowhere near as simple as the chart makes it out to be. The National Institutes of Health, has upped its grants in complementary and alternative medicine ($300 million in 2007 to an estimated $541 million in 2011) , and has helped establish new contemplative science research centers at Stanford University, Emory University, and the University of Wisconsin, the soon-to-be new home of the world’s first brain imaging lab with adjacent meditation room. Indeed it must be open to the possibility that some cherished yoga beliefs may turn out to be false. I have begun teaching lawyers about stress management through yoga and meditation, and they like facts.
I feel like our culture is getting further and further away from living and making choices according to how it feels in our bodies.
Humans have an incredible capacity for self deception and delusion and science can act as a check on these propensities.
My friends and I are all avid readers, and we like to share book recommendations with each other. Keep in mind, though, that David Lynch’s foundation focuses on Trascendental Meditation, which, for me, has provided less compelling scientific evidence for the kinds of brain changes I advocate than mindfulness meditation.
During the first 18-20 years of life the brain is developing circuits that will form the basis of decision-making for a lifetime.
Higher levels of brain integration are associated with higher moral reasoning, emotional stability and decreased anxiety, according to a 1981 study in the International Journal of Neuroscience.
Researchers monitoring the results are finding that meditation improves learning ability, memory, creativity and IQ. The article uses the same distinctions in meditation practice we outlined in our S-ART paper – That is Focused Attention, Open Monitoring (or Mindfulness), and Loving Kindness or Compassion (or ethical enhancement practices).

I would further argue that the larger frontoparietal control network (including nodes of the salience network and lateral frontopolar cortex and even the lateral cerebellum) all contribute to the decentering, monitoring, and reorientation process. The device will perform what Sound and Light Machines do using varying levels of light and binaural beats. Many people’s brain waves will synchronize to lights and sounds pulsing at brain wave frequencies, and this makes the brain change its state — a process called “entrainment.” By playing sequences of pulses into your eyes and ears, you can program your brain to follow any brain wave experience you like.
And he’s actually arranged for Tibetan monks to travel to American universities for brain scans, while also participating in speaking gigs at annual meetings of the Society for Neuroscience, the world’s largest gathering of brain scientists.
The magic of beautiful sequences of gentle movement, breathwork and positive messages renew us from the inside out. I think we can embrace both the joy of yoga practice and the rigorous discipline of science.
Yoga has historically been supported by doctors, etc for health benefits (for obvious reasons), but I think many have seen the spiritual aspect as a bit silly. Right now, I’m reading a memoir by Michele Hebert about her spiritual training in 1970s San Francisco.
Meditation lowers your stress level, decreasing cortisol production, increasing your well-being. Brain researchers have found that unhealthy lifestyles can inhibit normal brain development in adolescents and lead to impaired judgment and destructive behavior that carries over into adulthood. Findings such as these may be opening a new frontier of research — establishing an expanded, more enlightened view about what is possible for the human brain. New, real, comprehensive studies are being done to prove that meditation does indeed actually transform the circuits of the brain to increase functionality, focus, empathy and happiness. We can cut these scientists a break, as it’s only just until recently when technology and things like MRI machines could actually scientifically prove what many were just experiencing, see?
Interestingly, the brain’s crucial frontal area is where the highest levels of EEG coherence are typically recorded during TM practice, indicating improved communication between the prefrontal cortex and other parts of the brain. Changes have been seen in the limbic system or the brain’s emotional command center controlling the endocrine and autonomic nervous system, the prefrontal cortex in charge of focus, thoughts and actions, and left-sided anterior region responsible for generating positive emotions.
You know, just minor parts of the brain necessary for your overall energetic existence and prosperity.

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