The Yogi masters were right — meditation and breathing exercises can sharpen your mind
New research explains link between breath-focused meditation and attention and brain health
It has long been claimed by Yogis and Buddhists that meditation and ancient breath-focused practices, such as pranayama, strengthen our ability to focus on tasks. A new study by researchers at Trinity College Dublin explains for the first time the neurophysiological link between breathing and attention.
Science Daily link: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180510101254.htm
Link to paper: http://sci-hub.tw/https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13091
“The hypotheses that respiration and attention comprise a coupled system via the LC, and that breath-focused practices will alter its dynamics, have the potential to increase our understanding of the attentional system and how it interacts with physiological processes such as respiration. We have briefly summarized the current understanding of the LC as it relates to both attention and respiration, and described several mechanisms that could be involved in the coupling dynamics of this system, and their possible evolution through these practices. This could open a window into a deeper scientific understanding of the cognitive benefits of breath-centered practices, and possibly offer a scientific explanation as to why the breath may offer an ideal object of focus for meditation. Research on this hypothesis could further result in nonpharmacological therapeutic possibilities for attentionally compromised populations (such as ADHD, TBI, and elderly populations), with different practices targeting specific problems with either maintenance of physiological states of arousal or frontal control mechanisms.”
“NEUROSCIENTISTS HAVE IDENTIFIED HOW EXACTLY A DEEP BREATH CHANGES YOUR MIND”
Breathing is traditionally thought of as an automatic process driven by the brainstem—the part of the brain controlling such life-sustaining functions as heartbeat and sleeping patterns. But new and unique research, involving recordings made directly from within the brains of humans undergoing neurosurgery, shows that breathing can also change your brain. Link to paper: http://jn.physiology.org/content/early/2017/09/22/jn.00551.2017
“How Slow Breathing Induces Tranquility”
MARCH 31, 2017
Summary: Researchers have identified a group of neurons that relay information from the brain’s respiratory system to an areas of the brain associated with generating arousal.
Source: Stanford. http://neurosciencenews.com/tranquility-slow-breathing-6317/
Try it. Breathe slowly and smoothly. A pervasive sense of calm descends. Now breathe rapidly and frenetically. Tension mounts. Why?
It’s a question that has never been answered by science, until now.
In a new study, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and their colleagues have identified a handful of nerve cells in the brainstem that connect breathing to states of mind.
A paper describing the findings were published March 31 in Science.
Surprising New Role for Lungs: Making Blood
Cells in Mouse Lungs Produce Most Blood Platelets and Can Replenish Blood-Making Cells in Bone Marrow, Study Shows
Using video microscopy in the living mouse lung, UC San Francisco scientists have revealed that the lungs play a previously unrecognized role in blood production. As reported online March 22, 2017, in Nature, the researchers found that the lungs produced more than half of the platelets – blood components required for the clotting that stanches bleeding – in the mouse circulation.
Rhythm of breathing affects memory, fear
Breathing is not just for oxygen; it’s also linked to brain function, behavior
December 7, 2016
The rhythm of breathing creates electrical activity in the human brain that enhances emotional judgments and memory recall, scientists have discovered for the first time. These effects on behavior depend critically on whether you inhale or exhale and whether you breathe through the nose or mouth.
This Is Where Body Fat Ends Up When You Lose Weight
Breathe deeply, Australian research shows that it’s going to take a lot of exhaling to get rid of that excess fat.
Despite society’s obsession with weight loss, a study has revealed that, surprisingly, most health professionals don’t actually know what happens to fat when we “lose it”.
The research conducted by a team at UNSW Science in Sydney calculated exactly what happens to our fat when we shed kilos, and revealed that doctor’s leading theories are wrong – we don’t convert our missing mass into heat or energy, we breathe it out.
Behavioural training reduces inflammation
Research subjects suppress immune responses using physical conditioning.
Researchers have used Hof’s methods of mental and physical conditioning to train 12 volunteers to fend off inflammation.
The results, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1, suggest that people can learn to modulate their immune responses — a finding that has raised hopes for patients who have chronic inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
The Science of How to Consciously Control Your Immune System
On March 23rd, 2013, twenty-four scientific study participants were injected with a dead strain of Escherichia coli, a bacteria that normally induces violent sickness for days on end.
This time, however, none of the twelve people who were trained in the Wim Hof Method experienced any ailment whatsoever.
They had learned a technique from 20-time World Record holder Wim Hof, the first person to show that humans can consciously control their immune system. The other twelve, the untrained control group, were left to shiver and suffer.
Birds do it. Bees do it. But the human subject, standing here in a hoodie—can he do it? Joe Kirschvink is determined to find out. For decades, he has shown how critters across the animal kingdom navigate using magnetoreception, or a sense of Earth’s magnetic field. Now, the geophysicist at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena is testing humans to see if they too have this subconscious sixth sense. Kirschvink is pretty sure they do. But he has to prove it.
Imaging the meditative state
A brain state can be defined as a reliable pattern of activity and/or connectivity in multiple large-scale brain networks11, 73. Meditation training involves obtaining a meditative state, and measurements of behaviour and/or brain activity can be made while participants are thought to be in such a state15, 76, 162, 163. These studies can elucidate how the state influences the brain and behaviour2, 10, 14, 73. To identify brain regions activated during the state of meditation (compared to a baseline state) across multiple studies in experienced healthy meditators, an activation likelihood estimate meta-analysis of 10 studies with 91 subjects published before January 2011 was performed108. This revealed three areas in which there were clusters of activity: the caudate, which is thought (together with the putamen) to have a role in attentional disengagement from irrelevant information, allowing a meditative state to be achieved and maintained; the entorhinal cortex (parahippocampus), which is thought to control the mental stream of thoughts and possibly stop mind wandering; and the medial prefrontal cortex, which is thought to support the enhanced self-awareness during meditation108 (also see Ref. 162). It was suggested that these regions of activity might represent a core cortical network for the meditative state, independent of the meditation technique. It is important to note, however, that this meta-analysis included mostly papers from traditions other than mindfulness.
Reconstructing and deconstructing the self: cognitive mechanisms in meditation practice
- •Specific mechanisms and targets of different forms of meditation are proposed.
- •We present a model of attentional, constructive, deconstructive meditations.
- •Meta-awareness, experiential fusion, self-schema, self-inquiry, and insight are discussed.
Scientific research highlights the central role of specific psychological processes, in particular those related to the self, in various forms of human suffering and flourishing. This view is shared by Buddhism and other contemplative and humanistic traditions, which have developed meditation practices to regulate these processes. Building on a previous paper in this journal, we propose a novel classification system that categorizes specific styles of meditation into attentional, constructive, and deconstructive families based on their primary cognitive mechanisms. We suggest that meta-awareness, perspective taking and cognitive reappraisal, and self-inquiry may be important mechanisms in specific families of meditation and that alterations in these processes may be used to target states of experiential fusion, maladaptive self-schema, and cognitive reification.
NYTimes: SCIENCE WATCH; Heat From Meditation
Many skeptics might doubt that a person in a cold room could raise the temperature of his fingers and toes several degrees through meditation.
With the help of three Tibetan Buddhist monks, however, a team of scientists has demonstrated that temperature can be raised. One of the monks, wired with temperature sensors, raised the temperature of his fingers and toes by as much as 8.3 degre e s centigrade – almost 15 degrees Fahrenheit – according to a recent report in the scientific journal Nature.
Meditation For A Stronger Brain
Researchers say a type of meditation called integrative mind-body training can strengthen connections in certain areas of the brain, even when practiced for as little as 11 hours. Psychologist Michael Posner describes the study, and explains the brain changes he documented.