In a recently published imaging study, people with a long-time meditation practice appeared better able to cope with pain than those who didn't meditate. As reported yesterday on USA Today's Web site:
By using a laser to induce pain, [Christopher Brown from the U.K's University of Manchester] and his team found that activity in certain parts of the brain seemed to dip when the study participants anticipated pain. With that observation he was able to establish that those with upwards of 35 years of meditation under their belt anticipated pain the least.
In particular, meditators also seemed to display unusual activity in the prefrontal cortex region of the brain that is known for regulating attention and thought processes when a person feels threatened.
"The results of the study confirm how we suspected meditation might affect the brain," explained Brown. "Meditation trains the brain to be more present-focused and therefore to spend less time anticipating future negative events. This may be why meditation is effective at reducing the recurrence of depression, which makes chronic pain considerably worse."
The researchers note that the findings of this small study, which appear online in the journal Pain, are "consistent with the hypothesis that meditation reduces the anticipation and negative appraisal of pain." But more study is needed, they say, to "directly test the causal relationship between meditation, pain anticipation, and pain experience."
Previously: Studies show imagery, meditation can help with pain
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