Just in time for Valentine’s Day, a Yale study published on Feb. 12 investigated the brain regions that may help us wish others well.
To explore the neural foundation of this type of feeling, researchers used functional MRI imaging while both novice and experienced meditators practiced wishing love and kindness upon others. While previous research demonstrated that romantic love and drugs like cocaine triggered the same reward centers in the brain, selfless love deactivated these regions. The study pinpoints a potential biological foundation for meditative practices, such as those used in Buddhism and other religions, said Judson Brewer, a study co-lead author and adjunct professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine.
“In the West we look at this stuff and think it’s all holding hands and singing Kumbaya,” Brewer said. “In reality, these practices have a neurological basis behind them.”
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