Canadian neuroscientist and science writer Ward Plunet discusses new research on meditation in his debut YouTube video, “8 Weeks of Meditation Can Change How You Process Emotions.”
In this brief and clear video, Plunet shares details from the study “Effects of mindful-attention and compassion meditation training on amygdala response to emotional stimuli in an ordinary, non-meditative state,” Desbordes et al., Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2012, DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00292. Researchers worked with three groups, sending one to Mindful Attention Training (MAT), another to Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT), and the control group attended weekly health discussion classes. All three groups had two hours a week of class time (16 hours total), and the two meditation groups were also instructed to practice 20 minutes of meditation per day at home independently.
fMRI brain scans were conducted both before and after the intervention, with participants in a normal (non-meditative) state of mind. During the scan they were shown images of people in situations meant to evoke positive, negative, and neutral emotions. Plunet shares the results, interpreting scales, scores, and scans for a lay audience.
The take home message is that practice appears to help improve emotional control with as little as 10 minutes of meditation per day.