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Meditation reduces the emotional impact of pain
Date:6/2/2010

People who meditate regularly find pain less unpleasant because their brains anticipate the pain less, a new study has found.

Scientists from The University of Manchester recruited individuals into the study who had a diverse range of experience with meditation, spanning anything from months to decades. It was only the more advanced meditators whose anticipation and experience of pain differed from non-meditators.

The type of meditation practised also varied across individuals, but all included 'mindfulness meditation' practices, such as those that form the basis of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), recommended for recurrent depression by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in 2004.

"Meditation is becoming increasingly popular as a way to treat chronic illness such as the pain caused by arthritis," said Dr Christopher Brown, who conducted the research. "Recently, a mental health charity called for meditation to be routinely available on the NHS to treat depression, which occurs in up to 50% of people with chronic pain. However, scientists have only just started to look into how meditation might reduce the emotional impact of pain."

The study, to be published in the journal Pain, found that particular areas of the brain were less active as meditators anticipated pain, as induced by a laser device. Those with longer meditation experience (up to 35 years) showed the least anticipation of the laser pain.

Dr Brown, who is based in Manchester's School of Translational Medicine, found that people who meditate also showed unusual activity during anticipation of pain in part of the prefrontal cortex, a brain region known to be involved in controlling attention and thought processes when potential threats are perceived.

He said: "The results of the study confirm how we suspected meditation might affect the brain. Meditation trains the brain to be more present-focused and
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Contact: Aeron Haworth
aeron.haworth@manchester.ac.uk
44-161-275-8383
University of Manchester
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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