Mindfulness, Stress, brain

Mindfulness Reduces the Way Stress Affects the Brain

Article: Mindfulness by R.Nauert PhD Senior News Editor, Psych Central

For the last decade numerous studies have shown that mindfulness training can improve a variety of mental and physical health problems.

Scientists, however, were unable to explain how the meditation technique actually worked. New research resolves the question by positing that it improves health by reversing or mitigating the way stress affects brain pathways.

Carnegie Mellon University’s J. David Creswell – whose cutting-edge work has shown how mindfulness-meditation reduces loneliness in older adults and alleviates stress – and his graduate student Emily K. Lindsay developed the model.

Their work, published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, describes the biological pathways linking such training with reduced stress and stress-related disease outcomes.

When an individual experiences stress, activity in the brain’s prefrontal cortex — responsible for conscious thinking and planning — decreases. Simultaneously, activity in the amygdala, hypothalamus, and anterior cingulate cortex — regions that quickly activate the body’s stress response — increases.

Foremost, the knowledge of how the technique influences stress should lead to better clinical interventions as practitioners will have a better understanding of when certain treatments are most effective.

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