Brain scans show increased functional connectivity in the brain after a mindfulness meditation retreat.
Here’s How Meditation Reduces Inflammation And Prevents Disease*
by Carolyn Gregoire
Science has shown that mindfulness meditation can have a positive impact on a huge range of health conditions, including cancer, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. The practice has even been found to slow HIV progression and protect the brain from aging.
Mindfulness seems to improve nearly every aspect of health — but how? While mounting research has revealed many of the numerous physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness, little is known of the mechanisms underlying these positive changes.
Now, a new study from Carnegie Mellon University, published on Jan. 29 in the journal Biological Psychiatry, demystifies the neurobiological effects of cultivating a focused awareness on the present moment.
“Many people are skeptical about whether there are helpful aspects of mindfulness meditation practices,” Dr. David Creswell, a professor of psychology at the university and the study’s lead author, told The Huffington Post. “We show that mindfulness meditation impacts measurable brain circuits more so than helpful relaxation practices, and that these brain circuit changes help us understand how mindfulness meditation improves health.”
The researchers found that inflammation seems to be the key factor, as mindfulness reduces it by (more…)
Excerpted from Peter Diamonds’ Tech Blog, Oct. 11, 2015:
I consider Ray Kurzweil a very close friend and a very smart person.
Ray is a brilliant technologist, futurist, and director of engineering at Google focused on AI and language processing.
He has also made more correct (and documented) technology predictions about the future than anyone:
As reported, “of the 147 predictions that Kurzweil has made since the 1990’s, fully 115 of them have turned out to be correct, and another 12 have turned out to be “essentially correct” (off by a year or two), giving his predictions a stunning 86% accuracy rate.”
Two weeks ago, Ray and I held an hour-long webinar with my Abundance 360 CEOs about predicting the future.
During our session, there was one of Ray’s specific prediction that really blew my mind.
“In the 2030s,” said Ray, “we are going to send nano-robots into the brain (via capillaries) that will provide full immersion virtual reality from within the nervous system and will connect our neocortex to the cloud. Just like how we can wirelessly expand the power of our smartphones 10,000-fold in the cloud today, we’ll be able to expand our neocortex in the cloud.”
Let’s digest that for a moment.
2030 is only 15 years away…
Directly plugging your brain into the internet? (more…)
Published by National Geographic on Jan 30, 2014:
Ultrathin slices of mouse brains offer a mesmerizing look at how brain cells communicate at the tiniest scale. This research may offer clues about how the dance of our own synapses guides and animates us.
Explore more secrets of the brain online in National Geographic magazine:
PRODUCER: Shannon Sanders
ANIMATIONS AND 3-D RENDERINGS: Jason Treat, Kurt Mutchler, Bryan Christie, Joe Lertola, and the Harvard SEAS Connectome Group: Jeff Lichtman, Seymour Knowles-Barley, Narayanan Kasthuri, Verena Kaynig-Fittkau, Mike Roberts, Amelio Vázquez-Reina, Bjoern Andres, Daniel Berger, Thouis R. Jones, Eric Miller, Hanspeter Pfister, Sebastian Seung (MIT), Richard Schalek, Kenneth Hayworth, and Juan-Carlos Tapia
“a new understanding of what it means to be human”
From TIME Magazine, Jan 19, 2007:
Illustration for TIME by David Plunkert
It was a fairly modest experiment, as these things go, with volunteers trooping into the lab at Harvard Medical School to learn and practice a little five-finger piano exercise. Neuroscientist Alvaro Pascual-Leone instructed the members of one group to play as fluidly as they could, trying to keep to the metronome’s 60 beats per minute. Every day for five days, the volunteers practiced for two hours. Then they took a test.
At the end of each day’s practice session, they sat beneath a coil of wire that sent a brief magnetic pulse into the motor cortex of their brain, located in a strip running from the crown of the head toward each ear. The so-called transcranial-magnetic-stimulation (TMS) test allows scientists to infer the function of neurons just beneath the coil. In the piano players, the TMS mapped how much of the motor cortex controlled the finger movements needed for the piano exercise. What the scientists found was that after a week of practice, the stretch of motor cortex devoted to these finger movements took over surrounding areas like dandelions on a suburban lawn.
The finding was in line with a growing number of discoveries at the time showing that greater use of a particular muscle causes the brain to devote more cortical real estate to it. But Pascual-Leone did not stop there. He extended the experiment by having another group of volunteers merely think about practicing the piano exercise. They played the simple piece of music in their head, holding their hands still while imagining how they would move their fingers. Then they too sat beneath the TMS coil.
When the scientists compared the TMS data on the two groups–those who actually tickled the ivories and those who only imagined doing so–they glimpsed a revolutionary idea about the brain: the ability of mere thought to alter the physical structure and function of our gray matter.
An East meets West approach.
by Andrea F. Polard, Psy.D.
Your Brain Is Like a Liver
-Three Zen things to do with your biological nature-
In my experience, “I choose to be happy” is one of the most ineffective and counterproductive slogans on happiness there are. I have always thought it obvious that if we could will ourselves to happiness, we would do so readily. People do not choose to be unhappy either. It just isn’t how we human beings operate. While we are bestowed with the ability to think andinitiate change with thought, while we are able to communicate like no other animal, write amazing blogs like this one, create cathedrals, cure diseases and discover quantum physics, we are not and will never be that cerebral. Robert Ornstein writes inThe Evolution of Consciousness, “The brain evolved primarily to control different body reactions. It is more like the liver than it is like a computer. It isn’t organized for thought.”
If anything can be considered the chief organizing system, Ornstein contends, it is emotion. (more…)
Even if you don’t watch all this, it’s exciting to know it’s going on!
Published on Jan 17, 2013, by gyalwarinpoche:
Morning session of the first day of the The Mind and Life XXVI conference from Drepung Monastery in Mundgod, Karnataka, India, held on January 17-22, 2013. Twenty of the world’s foremost scientists and philosophers with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other senior Tibetan scholars will address topics over the course of the week that include the historical sweep of science and the revolutions in our understanding of our physical universe and the nature of the mind. Scientific and the classical Buddhist philosophical methods of inquiry will be studied, as well as selected topics in quantum physics, neuroscience, and Buddhist and contemporary Western views of consciousness. In addition, the applications of contemplative practices in clinical and educational settings will be explored.
For a schedule, continue… (more…)
Photo by Rick Cowley*
Mindfulness Meditation Training Changes Brain Structure in Eight Weeks
ScienceDaily (Jan. 21, 2011) — Participating in an 8-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 January 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, a team led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers report the results of their study, the first to document meditation-produced changes over time in the brain’s grey matter.
“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” says Sara Lazar, PhD, of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program, the study’s senior author. “This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”
Previous studies from Lazar’s group and others found (more…)