Does Meditation Allow You To Think Rationally?

A lot has been discussed lately as to the benefits meditation can have on your life. While many use the practice to deal with health issues like high blood pressure and pain, most use a meditation practice to help them to lower their anxiety and increase focus. As one can imagine, when people put less pressure on themselves, they are more apt to make smarter and more rational decisions.

USA Today recently published a post about a study coming out in this month’s edition of the journal, Frontiers in Decision Neuroscience. According to researchers, participants who underwent mindfulness meditation practices showed an increased ability to think based on facts rather than emotions. The study posed a scenario of whether or not a person would take money from someone who won the lottery. Their results were backed up with MRI scans.

When the researchers did MRI imaging of the Buddhist meditators brains, they found that they used different areas of their brain than other people when confronted with what could be construed as an ‘unfair’ choice, which allowed them to make decisions based more on facts and less on emotions.

Neuroimaging showed that Buddhist meditators engaged different parts of the brain than expected, the researchers found. Previous work showed that when people rejected the offer, there was activity in the anterior insula portion of their brains. This is linked to the emotion of disgust and plays a role in emotions related to violations of social norm violations, rejection, betrayal, and mistrust.

But meditators showed no significant activity for the anterior insula when offered a portion of the money. In fact they increased activity in the posterior insula, which has been linked to rational decision-making.

Read more about this meditation study here.

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