Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • The science of meditation


Recently, Western neuroscientists have flocked to study Buddhism. The attraction? Meditation, that introspective inquiry into the workings of the mind that Buddhists have practised for millennia. A key player in this quest is the Mind and Life Institute, created in the 1980s by businessman Adam Engle and the late neuroscientist Francisco Varela.

In this article, Marcia Barinaga reports on how the institute’s two-day conference at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has furthered this unusual meeting of minds. More than 1,000 Western neuroscientists and Buddhists, including the Dalai Lama, focused on attention, emotion and mental imagery – subjects of interest to both.

One of the most fruitful areas explored was how Buddhist monks foster positive mental states through meditation, a technique of great interest to Western psychologists. Some of the scientists gave other phenomena short shrift. What ultimately emerged, however, was that both groups are fired by a very similar spirit of inquiry.

Link to full article in Science

Reference: Science, 302, 44 (2003)
We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.