The following post on the benefits and effects on the brain of meditation was originally part of a presentation Eric Thompson gave on the Neuroscience of Meditation at the MindHive event at Naropa University in March, 2010. It is based on the research of Newberg and d’Aquili.
- Attention Association Area (AAA) in the right hemisphere is activated.
- Eventually spreads to AAA in left hemisphere.
- Deactivation of the surrounding areas in the frontal lobes.
- Any burst of activity in these areas indicates the presence of random thoughts.
- Increase in GABA.
- Decreases stimuli arriving at frontal lobe.
- Enhances focus.
- Decreased activity in Orientation Association Area (OAA) in right parietal lobe.
- Right parietal lobe normally mediates our sense of space.
- Decreased activity results in the meditation of a felt sense of wholeness.
- Conveys the emotional significance of the experience.
- Imprints long-term memory.
- Activates the right lateral amygdala.
- Confers emotional significance to the lack of incoming sensory information during meditation.
- Influences the hypothalamus.
The ventromedial hypothalamus:
- Activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
- Profound quiescence.
Activity eventually spills over from the right hemisphere into the left hemisphere:
- Left and right parietal areas (OAA) are then switched off.
- Correlated with the dissolution of the self/non-self boundary.
Activity in the left hemisphere:
- Eventually activates the sympathetic nervous system.
The resulting simultaneous activation of the parasympathetic (Yin) and sympathetic (Yang) nervous systems mediates:
- Spiritual experiences.