Researchers have found that the “positive effects of mindfulness meditation may result because of an improved ability to control a specific type of brain wave called the alpha rhythm”.
And it’s this alpha rhythm that helps you quiet your mind and protect it from the ‘noise’ of our crazy, over-stimulating world.
Mindfulness meditation allows people to modulate their alpha rhythm better & faster than non-meditators.
“Mindfulness meditation has been reported to enhance numerous mental abilities, including rapid memory recall,” says Catherine Kerr, PhD, of the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at MGH and the Osher Research Center at Harvard Medical School, co-lead author of the report. “Our discovery that mindfulness meditators more quickly adjusted the brain wave that screens out distraction could explain their superior ability to rapidly remember and incorporate new facts.”
Brain cells use particular frequencies or waves to regulate the flow of information in much the same way that radio stations broadcast at specific frequencies. One frequency, the alpha rhythm, is particularly active in the cells that process touch, sight and sound in the brain’s outmost layer, called the cortex, where it helps to suppress irrelevant or distracting sensations and regulate the flow of sensory information between brain regions.
The study tested 12 healthy volunteers with no previous experience in meditation.
- Half completed the eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program developed at the University of Massachusetts.
- The other half were asked not to engage in any type of meditation during the study period.
The researchers then measured alpha rhythms in the brain area that processes signals from the left hand while participants were asked to direct their attention to either their left hand or left foot.
Participants’ abilities to adjust the alpha rhythm in cortical cells associated with the hand, depending on where their attention was directed, were recorded during the milliseconds immediately after they received an attention cue.
And by the end of the study, the meditators were able to make faster and better attention-based adjustments to the alpha rhythm than the non-meditators.
If your day to day life has you all stressed out, you may want to take a look at a mindfulness meditation course.
- Brain Research Bulletin