Source FrontiersonHumanNeuroscience

Several previous studies, as noted by the American researchers, advocate the hypothesis that meditation improves control of emotions by suppressing the function of the tonsil, a brain area that specializes in the processing of negative emotions such as fear, anger, etc.

These variations, up to now, were observed only during meditation. In experiments at the Massachusetts General Hospital indicated that the benefits of meditation can be lasting and to extend the everyday man.

The researchers tested volunteers who had no previous experience in meditation. They were divided into three groups. The first group was trained for eight weeks in a technique called "mindful attention meditation”, form of meditation in which a person learns to focus his attention on internal processes such as breathing, thoughts and feelings.

The second group was trained in the same period in the "compassionate meditation» (compassionate meditation) at which promotes love compassion for yourself and others. A third control group meditated at all.

After eight weeks of lessons, twelve persons from each group were examined at Massachusetts General Hospital by the method of functional magnetic resonance imaging, which monitors brain activity. At the time of examination, the volunteers were asked to look at pictures with negative, positive or neutral content.

The group "meditative attention and awareness", showed reduced activation of the right tonsil in all images, as compared with the control group. This indicates that meditation promotes emotional stability and reduces stress.

Different results were seen in the group of "compassionate meditation." And in this case, the activation of the tonsil was reduced by presenting positive and neutral images. In presenting negative images, however-which showed people suffer-the reaction of the right tonsil was larger than normal, indicating that people were more upset. Since the "compassion meditation" is designed to enhance feelings of compassion, it seems reasonable to increase the response of the tonsil when one sees people suffer. Increased right tonsil response was found to be associated with reduced depression score in tests, suggesting that compassion for others it may be beneficial for us.

These findings are in agreement with the general hypothesis that meditation may lead to stable, beneficial changes in brain function, particularly with regard to the processing of emotions.