Neuroimaging Study Reveals Buddhist Meditation's Impact on External Distractions

The Buddhist Channel, 8 September 2023

Moscow, Russia -- In a recent report published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology, traditional Buddhist meditation practices have been found to diminish attention towards external stimuli. The study titled "Traditional Buddhist Meditations Reduce Mismatch Negativity in Experienced Monk-Practitioners" was conducted by a team of fifteen researchers led by Sviatoslav V. Medvedev, a professor at the Institute of the Human Brain, Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, Russia.

This finding aligns with the core Buddhist principle of gradually retreating from sensory-focused levels of awareness related to the five senses. Meditation has been an enduring practice in Buddhism for centuries, with previous research demonstrating its positive effects on mental health, concentration, and stress reduction.

Essentially, meditation fosters a state of calm and mindfulness, enabling practitioners to be present in the moment. These diverse aspects of meditation prompted a team of researchers to delve into how Buddhist mindfulness methods manifest at a neurological level.

To explore the intricate connection between traditional Buddhist meditation and its impact on brain activity, a study involved 115 seasoned practitioners from various Indian monasteries. These participants, aged 25 to 80, were right-handed and had no hearing impairments, injuries, concussions, or neurological disorders.

Electroencephalography (EEG) was employed to record the monks' brain activities, involving the placement of electrodes on their scalps to measure brain-generated electrical patterns. EEG recordings were obtained while they engaged in various meditative practices.

To provide a balanced perspective, the researchers also monitored their brain activities during a passive state of relaxed wakefulness akin to free-form mind wandering. Prior to recording, participants provided their ages and education levels, and afterward, they assessed their meditation quality.

The results demonstrated that traditional meditative practices led to a decrease in MMN amplitude compared to the passive state. MMN amplitude signifies a specific brain response to unexpected external stimuli, such as sudden loud noises. This reduction in MMN amplitude suggests that experienced monk-practitioners were less responsive to such stimuli during meditation, indicating a diminished likelihood of being distracted or disturbed by unexpected sounds while deeply immersed in meditation.

Furthermore, the study revealed reductions in other brain wave amplitudes related to processing rare sensory distractions. In simpler terms, during deep meditation, monks were less prone to being startled by unexpected sounds or distractions, reflecting their intense internal focus and reduced attention to the external world.

Nonetheless, the study has certain caveats to consider. The chosen control state of relaxed wakefulness may not be optimal for drawing definitive conclusions, as it might not sufficiently stimulate the brain to produce significant responses. Future research might benefit from utilizing a more demanding cognitive task or a more stimulating environment for an enhanced control state.

Moreover, individual differences in response to the selected control state need to be considered, as what works for one participant may not be as effective for another.The study also did not differentiate the monks based on age or meditation experience, keeping them all in the same group, which could potentially influence the results.

Nevertheless, while further investigations are warranted to enhance our understanding of Buddhist meditation practices, this study provides valuable insights into the profound effects of meditation on the brain.
We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: