MBSR Re-Shapes the Brain

A recent study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (SCAN) reported that practicing mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) therapy can actually lead to structural changes in the amygdala.

This finding is of particular significance because the amygdala has been identified in neurobiological studies as a brain structure that plays a crucial role in stress responses. 

In this study, individuals who were stressed but otherwise healthy participated in an eight-week program of MBSR. At the end of the program, each participant reported a significant decrease in their perceived stress, as compared to before treatment.

MR images of each participant’s brain were obtained both before and after the MBSR program. The images showed a decrease in the density of the amygdala gray matter after the program, when the participants reported feeling less stress. 

This is the first study to draw a link between physical neuroplastic changes and alterations in the one’s psychological state.

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Read the full study

Listen to the "60-Minute Mind" podcast on this study