Buddhist Brains: Understanding cognition’s affect on physiology


Read the article below summarizing the work of Dr. Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin (GO BADGERS!!!!!)




You can see a published summary of Davidson’s studies here:


After reading the above, consider the following: 

  1. How does Davidson’s statement, “The best way to activate positive emotion circuits in the brain is through generosity” relate to the research discussed by Kelly McGonigal in her Ted Talk on Stress? 
  2. What is the cognitive change that Davidson investigates? 
  3. What is the physiological change that results from the the aforementioned cognitive change? 
  4. What are some possible implications for his findings? 

2 Effects of the Environment on Physiological Processes

The first study you’ll need to know is Sapolsky’s work with baboons and the physiological effects environmental stressors have on the release of cortisol (see linked post):  https://awakenedlearning.com/2015/10/06/baboon-bullies-stress-and-physiology/

**The other study you’ll want to know in order to address this learning outcome completely is Rosenweig and Bennet’s study from 1972 involving Rats and environment**  In this study they placed rats in either a stimulating environment or non stimulating environment for 30 or 60 days. They were then killed, and lesioned. Researchers found that the rats who spent time in the stimulating environments had increased thickness in the cerebral cortex area of the brain**

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is growing in popularity thanks to the expanding knowledge of the impact meditation has on cognition.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison has been doing amazing research in this regard, even giving an fMRI to the Dalai Llama himself!


There are also Mindfulness Based centers of research and practice at Duke University


and the University of Massachusetts (where the technique was first applied in psychiatric manner):


Download the document below as we progress through some Mindful activities! After we’re done meditating, you’ll be required to reflect on your experience and you’ll also evaluate your coping approach for stress!

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction