Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Neuroscience’

Recent scientific studies suggest that people with mindfulness traits have the ability to calm their emotions by naming them. Mindfulness is a process where one is aware and receptive to present moment experiences.

In a study conducted by UCLA researchers Matthew Leiberman and David Creswell, subjects in an MRI scanner were shown emotionally expressive faces. When they were asked to name the gender of the person expressing the emotion no changes occurred. However when the same subjects were asked to name the emotion they were seeing (such as anger, fear or sadness), the person’s right ventro-lateral region became activated at the moment that the emotion was being named and the subcortical regions that respond to facial expressions especially in the region of the right amygdala calmed down. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Our brains are composed of a left and right hemisphere connected by the corpus collosum, a small number of neural circuits located deep in the brain where energy and information is sent back and forth between the two sides. The left hemisphere is the more analytical, conceptual, fact based side that loves logical, linear, linguistic and literal communication. The right side of the brain is the more image-based side that processes non-verbal eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, gestures and timing. It sees the whole picture whereas the left sees the world in terms of either/or. The right is characterized by autobiographical memory which is non-language based whereas factual memory is dominated on the left. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Increasingly we are hearing in the popular press the axiom “neurons that fire together, wire together”. In 1949 Canadian behavioral psychologist Donald Hebb proposed that learning linked neurons in new ways. He proposed that when two neurons fire at the same time repeatedly (or when one fires, causing the other to fire) chemical changes occur in both, so that the two tend to connect more strongly. Hebb’s concept was neatly summarizerd by neuro-scientist Carla Shatz: Neurons that fire together, wire together.” (from Norman Doidge’s book “The Brain that Changes Itself“)

What this means in practical terms is that each time you repeat a particular thought or action, you strengthen the connection between a set of brain cells or neurons. As neuroscience expert and psychologist Dr. Rick Hanson says, “the mind and the brain are a unified system. As the brain changes, the mind changes. As the mind changes, the brain changes. This means that you can use your conscious mind to make lasting changes to your brain to bring about greater well-being and happiness in your life.”

In her now classic book, Train Your Mind to Change Your Brain, author Sharon Begley states it succinctly, “The power of neuroplasticity to transform the emotional brain opens up new worlds of possibility. We are not stuck with the brain we were born with but have the capacity to willfully direct which functions will flower and which will wither, which moral capacities emerge and which do not, which emotions flourish and which are stilled.”

The science of neuroplasticity is both optimistic and hopeful. As we set the intention to register what is good in our lives and allow the good feelings to permeate our bodies and our minds, we are making underlying changes to the neural circuitry of our brains increasing the probability that the same neural connections will fire in the future.

Read Full Post »

Curiosity, Openness, Acceptance and Love (COAL) is an acronym invented by Dr. Daniel Siegel to describe the qualities of mindfulness. Interestingly, COAL are also the qualities present in secure parent/child attachments and between psychotherapist and patient in successful healing outcomes. It is a loving and openly accepting relationship between parent and child that determines how well the child will grow into a successful and mature adult.

In his book “The Mindful Brain” Siegel states that “the interpersonal attunement of secure attachment is paralled by the intrapersonal attunement of mindful awareness. Both interpersonal and intrapersonal attunement develop the capacity for intimate relationships, well being and resilience.”

When the child’s world is understood by the parent, the child feels good, connected and loved. This is attunement. Similarly, when we are mindful of our moment to moment experience with a kind, and open-hearted presence, we become our own best friend.

Siegel also states that “both forms of attunement share common neural pathways particularly those found in the pre-frontal cortex. The development of these regulatory circuits in the brain is associated with emotional resilience, compassion for oneself and others. Seigel lists nine prefrontal functions that overlap with mindfulness practice and secure parent/child attachments. “They are regulation of body systems, balancing emotions, modulating fear, responding flexibly, attuning to others, exhibiting insight, empathy, intuition, and morality.”

Seigel states “Another important dimension of looking toward the mindful brain is that by understanding the neural mechanisms associated with mindful awareness, we may be in a better position to identify it’s universal human qualities and make it more accessible and acceptable to a broader audience.” Seigel invites the reader to “imagine a world in which this health promoting, empathy-enhancing, executive-attention developing, self compassion nurturing, affordable, and adaptable mental practice is made available in everyone’s life”.

Read Full Post »