How Meditation Makes You More Rational

A new study suggests that people who regularly practice Buddhist meditation make decisions in a more rational way.

“But the meditators’ brains reacted quite differently, activating brain areas associated with interoception — the representation of the body’s internal state. In fact, the researchers found very little overlap in the two groups’ neural responses.”

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Acupuncture Activates the Brain

Acupuncture has a measurable, if mysterious, effect on the brain, UK scientists have found.

The research team used brain imaging to show that treatment with genuine needles activates brain areas beyond the ones that light up when trick needles are used. “This is the first brain-imaging study that has shown an effect beyond placebo,” says George Lewith, an expert in complementary medicine at the University of Southampton who led the study. “This is the first brain imaging study that has shown an effect beyond placebo.”

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Microbes Manipulate Your Mind

Microbes that manipulate the behavior of their host are not limited to nature’s dark corners, although those examples are vivid. Our body hosts vast numbers of foreign microorganisms, some of which wield unseen powers over us. These microbes are not parasites—they live on and in our body, mostly in our gut, and often strike up a symbiotic relationship with us.

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Your Own Personal Ecosystem

We’re just beginning to learn the effects our microbiome has on us, but it’s clear that they can be profound. Certain species help digest food and synthesize vitamins; others guide the immune system. Medical researchers have linked obesity, heart disease, and anxiety to properties of the microbiome. In many cases, it’s not the individual species that seem to matter but the richness of the ecosystem. Just as the health of a forest depends upon diversity, our own health appears to benefit from the presence of a wide range of uninvited guests, many of which coevolved with us.

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Why Yoga, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong Aren’t Like Other Workouts

Recently, investigators at the University of South Florida and Fudan University in Shanghai asked what happens to the brain when seniors practice Tai Chi. Published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, the study found that participants who practiced Tai Chi showed improved memory and other cognitive abilities and even experienced increased brain volume. The research also showed similar results for those who participated in spirited discussions.

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