[Buddha-l] Meditation changes the brain structure

Gad Horowitz horowitz at chass.utoronto.ca
Thu Jan 27 13:46:48 MST 2011

Do the terms "liberal" and "conservative" have the SAME referents all over 
the world?
Are these "scientists" assuming that  Have they studied Sudanese brains, 
Ecuadorian brains, etc.?

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "S. A. Feite" <sfeite at roadrunner.com>
To: "Buddhist discussion forum" <buddha-l at mailman.swcp.com>
Sent: Thursday, January 27, 2011 3:13 PM
Subject: Re: [Buddha-l] Meditation changes the brain structure

> On Jan 27, 2011, at 12:44 PM, Macleod, Nik wrote:
>> Seems that sustained application to all manner of things
>> can bring about long term changes in brain structure -
>> witness the changes effected in London cabbies by
>> acquisition of 'the knowledge':
> As neuroscientists say "neurons that fire together, wire together."
> Interestingly also, Buddhist meditation helps the amygdala get
> *smaller*. "Amygdalas are responsible for fear and other "primitive"
> emotions." Large amydalas are also connected to primitive political
> idealogies like conservatism.
> "Political opinions are considered choices, and in Western
> democracies the right to choose one's opinions -- freedom of
> conscience -- is considered sacrosanct.
> But recent studies suggest that our brains and genes may be a major
> determining factor in the views we hold.
> A study at University College London in the UK has found that
> conservatives' brains have larger amygdalas than the brains of
> liberals. Amygdalas are responsible for fear and other "primitive"
> emotions. At the same time, conservatives' brains were also found to
> have a smaller anterior cingulate -- the part of the brain
> responsible for courage and optimism.
> If the study is confirmed, it could give us the first medical
> explanation for why conservatives tend to be more receptive to
> threats of terrorism, for example, than liberals. And it may help to
> explain why conservatives like to plan based on the worst-case
> scenario, while liberals tend towards rosier outlooks.
> "It is very significant because it does suggest there is something
> about political attitudes that are either encoded in our brain
> structure through our experience or that our brain structure in some
> way determines or results in our political attitudes," Geraint Rees,
> the neurologist who carried out the study, told the media.
> Rees, who heads up UCL's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, was
> originally asked half-jokingly to study the differences between
> liberal and conservative brains for an episode of BBC 4's Today show
> that was hosted by actor Colin Firth. But, after studying 90 UCL
> students and two British parliamentarians, the neurologist was
> shocked to discover a clear correlation between the size of certain
> brain parts and political views.
> He cautions that, because the study was carried out only on adults,
> there is no way to tell what came first -- the brain differences or
> the political opinions.
> But evidence is beginning to accumulate that figuring out a person's
> political proclivities may soon be as simple as a brain scan -- or a
> DNA test.
> In a study published in October, researchers at Harvard and UC-San
> Diego found that a variant of the DRD4 gene predisposes people to
> being liberal, but only if they had active social lives as
> adolescents. The "liberal gene" has also been linked to a desire to
> try new things, and other "personality traits related to political
> liberalism."
> For his part, actor Colin Firth, who hosted the BBC show that
> revealed the results of the brain scans, has said he wants to see
> brain scans on politicians to find out if they are telling the truth
> about what they believe.
> Questioning the "liberal" credentials of the head of Britain's
> Liberal Democratic party, Nick Clegg, Firth said: "I think we should
> have him scanned.""
> http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/8228192/Political-
> views-hard-wired-into-your-brain.html
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