Mindfulness Brain Research and Neuroscience

Mindfulness Brain Research and Neuroscience

The Science Behind Mindfulness

Mindfulness is an ancient practice that is becoming more mainstream as research uncovers its many health and wellness benefits. Modern brain imaging and neuroscience studies are now demonstrating what mindfulness practitioners have known for centuries – that training the mind can change the brain.

How Mindfulness Changes the Brain

Several key studies have shown that regular mindfulness meditation practice can physically alter the structure and function of the brain. Areas like the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala are impacted. These brain changes correlate with reduced stress, better focus, more positive emotions, and increased feelings of empathy and compassion.

The Neuroscience of Mindfulness and Well-Being

Neuroscientists have found that mindfulness practices stimulate the prefrontal cortex which oversees executive functions like decision making, planning, and problem solving. Mindfulness also strengthens the connections between the prefrontal cortex, limbic system, and the rest of the brain – boosting emotional regulation abilities.

How Mindfulness Reduces Stress

Mindfulness has been found to reduce activity in the amygdala, the brain’s emotional reaction center. With less excessive amygdala stimulation, the body experiences less of the stress hormone cortisol and inflammatory compounds that lead to disease in the body and mind.

The Psychology of Mindfulness

In addition to physical changes in the brain, mindfulness also supports positive psychological changes. Mindfulness practices are linked to higher levels of self-awareness, compassion, and emotional intelligence – all components of good mental health.


What part of the brain does mindfulness affect?

Mindfulness has been found to physically change areas like the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala which regulate executive functioning, memory, emotional control and stress reactivity.

How quickly can mindfulness change your brain?

Research has shown changes in the brain after just 8 weeks of mindfulness practice. However more significant changes occur with long-term consistent meditation.

Why is the amygdala important for mindfulness?

The amygdala governs emotional reactions like fear and anxiety. Mindfulness helps calm amygdala overactivity which reduces stress hormones and inflammatory agents linked to disease.

Can mindfulness increase compassion?

Yes, studies link mindfulness practices to increased empathy, emotional intelligence and compassion by stimulating connections between emotional regulation and reasoning centers of the brain.

What happens if you practice mindfulness every day?

Habitual mindfulness stimulates lasting changes in brain structure and function linked to enhanced focus, memory, emotional control, compassion and overall mental health and resiliency.