Thursday, April 21, 2011

Uncoupling Negative Emotional Reactions from Behavior

From the abstract of a recent study looking at the impact on meditation practice on the decision-making process:

“Human decision-making is often framed as a competition between cognitive and emotional processes in the brain. Deviations from rational processes are believed to derive from inclusion of emotional factors in decision-making.

Here, we investigate whether a group of experienced Buddhist meditators are better equipped to regulate emotional processes compared with controls during economic decision-making in the Ultimatum Game.

We show that meditators accept unfair offers on more than half of the trials, whereas controls only accept unfair offers on one-quarter of the trials…

In summary, when assessing unfairness, meditators activate a different network of brain areas compared with controls enabling them to uncouple negative emotional reactions from their behavior. These findings highlight the clinically and socially important possibility that sustained training in mindfulness meditation may impact distinct domains of human decision-making.”

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