Change Your Brain by Transforming Your Mind

“Change Your Brain by Transforming Your Mind” was the title of a presentation given by Richard J. Davidson at this year’s annual meeting of the American Psychological Society (APS). This was part of a Theme Program titled “Consciousness: From Neural Systems to Phenomenological Experience.” Davidson’s presentation is in the new arena of contemplative neuroscience or contemplative practice (see the Blog Post “Buddha’s Brain”). The goal here is to use contemplative practices to take advantage of the neuroplasticity of the brain and produce enduring changes in the habits of the mind. They are looking for neurally inspired behavioral interventions that put the brain back into biomedicine, a pathway back to the mind.

He described a study that assessed the effects of meditative expertise on the regulation of the neural circuitry of emotion.1 Both fMRI and subjective reports were collected. The specific neural structures and circuits involved in the circuitry of emotion were identified. The data indicated that the mental expertise to cultivate positive emotion alters the activation of circuits previously linked to empathy and theory of mind in response to emotional stimuli.

Readers of the Healthymemory Blog should be well aware of the importance of attention and the ability to selectively attend to desired information. The famous psychologist, William James, noted that the facility of voluntarily bringing back wandering attention over and over is extremely important. Research indicates that meditation develops this facility. Meditation in Sanskrit means familiarization. So meditation is a matter of becoming familiar with our own minds. There is a positive correlation between gamma activity in our brains and clarity ratings.

There are a variety of Healthymemory Blog Posts on meditation such as “Does Meditation Promote a Healthy Memory,” “Is Daydreaming Bad for You,” “Costly Gadgets or Software are Not Required for a Healthy Memory,” “Continuing to Be Positive After Thanksgiving,” “Intensive Meditation Training Increases the Ability of to Sustain Attention,” “Restoring Attentional Resources,” “More on Restoring Attentional Resources, “The Relaxation Response,”, and “How to Avoid Temptation.”

1Lutz, A. Brefczynski-Lewis, J., Johnstone, T., & Davidson, R.J. (2008). Regulation of the Neural Circuitry of Emotion by Compassion Meditation> Effects of Meditative Experience., PloS one,, March, Volume 3, Issue 3, e1897.

© Douglas Griffith and, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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One Response to “Change Your Brain by Transforming Your Mind”

  1. lanniewelleven Says:

    I quote: _Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]. from the Letter to the Romans 12: 2

    ‘Even the thing which is good’ clearly means ‘Indeed the thing which is good.’ And ‘so that you may prove’ translates in modern English or American as ‘so that you may test for yourselves.’
    Meditation has value, it is thinking. But the man who acts and has a considerate and considered (determined) course of action, his thoughts shall be clearly better orientated or directed toward the matter he is thinking about.

    There have been many visions in the course of man’s history. The power and impact of men on their environment, on others, on this world, is much increased. All the more reason then for men to consider well all options available to us in our own personal lives, our families, our jobs (the way we make a living), and the places where we live.

    Greetings, Harry

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