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Stress Management

Meditation Is Good For The Brain


Scientists have found evidence that meditation has a biological effect on the body, according to the results of a study that suggests it could boost parts of the brain and immune system.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison enrolled 41 people in a trial of "mindfulness meditation,"a technique developed by stress reduction specialist Jon Kabat-Zinn to help hospital patients deal with pain and discomfort. Twenty-five of the subjects attended a weekly class and one seven-hour retreat during the course of the study; they also were given exercises to perform at home, according to the research team.

After eight weeks, the team measured electrical activity in the frontal part of the brain. Team members found that this region was more active on the left side in individuals who meditated, and was associated with lower anxiety and a more positive emotional state.

Participants also received flu shots at the beginning of the study; those who meditated had higher antibody levels, according to Dr. Richard Davidson, research team leader.

"Although our study is preliminary and more research is clearly warranted, we are very encouraged by these results," Davidson said.

The researchers acknowledged that "there is increasing evidence that meditation is a useful, and, for some people, a powerful therapy."

However, more information is needed to determine who is helped by the meditation and its exact benefits, team members said.

(Editor’s Note: Additional information on mindfulness-based stress reduction is available in the May 2002 edition of Wellness Program Management Advisor).


© 2003 Health Resources Publishing