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Psychology Holzel (mindfulness and brain scans) Cheat Sheet by

(mindfulness and brain scans)


1) To identify if regular partic­ipation in Mindfu­lne­ss-­Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) leads to measurable neurol­ogical changes, which might be associated with trait changes related to mindfu­lness practice.
2) To identify brain structures which changed as a result of an eight-week MBSR programme.


This study focuses on the effects of mindfu­lness, a stress­-re­duction technique used to improve wellbeing. This technique develops awareness of the present moment and encourages compas­sionate and non-ju­dge­mental attitudes
Mindfu­lness is practiced by millions all around the world
It has also been incorp­orated into treatment programmes for people with conditions including anxiety, chronic pain and substance abuse due to the increasing amount of evidence supporting its positive impact on wellbeing


1) – the ability to observe
2) - – the ability to describe
3) - the ability of passing thoughts and feelings in a non-ju­dge­mental way
4) -the ability to be non-re­active
5) - awareness of actions


Certainly, here's a simpler explan­ation: The study also looks at how different parts of the brain do different jobs. For example, one part called the hippoc­ampus helps with memory and emotions, and another part called the insula helps with being aware of things. One way to understand what these brain parts do is to see how they change when you practice a skill over time.
One way of finding out the function of different brain structures is to monitor how they change over time following regular practice of a certain skill.
To learn about the link between mindfu­lness and locali­sation of function, Britta Hölzel and her colleagues used MRI scans to create detailed models of the human brain. These models can then be used to measure micros­copic changes that occur in specific brain structures following mindfu­lness practice
Resear­chers have some unders­tanding of the function of many brain struct­ures, and once they know which brain structures are affected by mindfu­lness, they can start to work out how it improves wellbeing.


Studies have shown that experi­enced meditators have signif­icantly more grey matter in some key brain structures compared with non-me­dit­ators. Findings are unclear, but the hippoc­ampus and insula have each been identified in at least two studies.
This suggests that changes in wellbeing may be linked to increases in grey matter.


1) Mindful Yoga: It's like gentle exercises where you move slowly and breathe, focusing on what you're doing right at that moment. You also learn to be kind to yourself and accept your body's abilities and limits.
2) Sitting Medita­tion: This is about paying attention to your breath and your senses, like what you see, smell, touch, or taste. It helps you become aware of your thoughts and feelings and your place in the world.
3) Body Scanning: This means paying attention to how different parts of your body feel, one at a time, until you're aware of how your whole body and mind feel.


A "­vox­el" is like a tiny 3D pixel used to measure the size of things in the brain. Scientists use it to compare the sizes of brain parts in different people, like those who meditate and those who don't. They can also see how these brain parts change over time. To do this, they first figure out what kind of brain tissue they're looking at, like gray matter or white matter. Then, they put all the brain images on a standard template to make sure they're comparing things properly. Finally, they use a special math trick called "­smo­oth­ing­" to make their data more accurate.


Hölzel and the resear­chers found that doing mindfu­lness exercises regularly for just eight weeks can change the structure of important parts of the brain. These parts are respon­sible for things like learning, memory, contro­lling emotions, and unders­tanding others' points of view. This might explain why people who do mindfu­lness often feel better. However, they didn't find the same changes in a part of the brain called the insula. It might need more than eight weeks of mindfu­lness practice to change that area.


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