A training to stimulate the brain

Un entraînement pour stimuler le cerveau

Neurologist and internationally recognized, the belgian professor Steven Laureys, has studied the effects of meditation on the body and the mind, taking the buddhist monk known Matthieu Ricard as the ” guinea pig “. The results of his scientific research, coarsened in his new book, have demonstrated that not only the meditation stimulates the brain’s function, but it is also changing in a positive way.

Meditation is good for the brain
Dr Steven Laureys
Editions Odile Jacob

Meditation is good for the brain
Dr Steven Laureys
Editions Odile Jacob
270 pages

In Meditation, it is good for the brain, Dr. Steven Laureys explains the research he has carried out, in a very accessible way. He is convinced that meditation has changed her own life and the lives of several of her patients.

The benefits are many, ” he observes : less stress, better sleep, better concentration, decrease anxiety, antidepressant effects and pain.

In the interview, he summarizes his research and the conclusions that have been drawn, notably during a series of tests, where the brain is stimulated with a magnet. “It has been shown how Matthew had been a voluntary control very direct and very important to the brain activity. In the book, I mostly use Matthew and our research ; it is a bit of a “super guinea pig” that helps to illustrate what we know today about meditation and summarize what the other labs have demonstrated. Our wide expertise, that is when the brain is injured. “

Memory and attention

The monk Matthieu Ricard, an interpreter in French of the dalai lama, visited in their laboratories to do all kinds of tests. The photo of the cover page of the book bears witness to that. “First of all, it was put in the magnetic resonance to make pictures of the brain and of the grey matter. He has more than 70 years. And when you compare his brain to that of other people who have more than 70 years, well, his gray matter was well preserved, as a whole, and particularly in regions that are important for memory, attention and the control of emotions. “

The researchers discovered that, Matthieu Ricard had more connections between the left hemisphere and the right of his brain. “The two parts of the brain communicate better. “

They also examined the electrical activity of his brain. “We see that the meditation is not to think about anything. On the contrary : there is an increase in its activity, of its connectivity. The meditation is to become aware of this mental activity and take control over that. “


The experts focused on the aging, by doing other tests. “Normally, from 30 years of age, the brain activity starts to decrease. And when we are going to meditate, it is clear that it is not going to decrease the aging process, but it’s going to slow down this aging process. There are even studies which look at if it can’t help people who are starting a dementia. “

“This is not something that will cure us of the disease of Alzheimer’s, but it has been shown that it will have a positive effect, both on the normal aging on certain degenerative diseases. “

Eight weeks

Dr. Laureys explains that meditation is a mental exercise, in the same way as the physical training. “Meditation can be a series of exercises, techniques. Depending on the year, one will develop different parts of his brain. “

He made it clear that it is not necessary to be a buddhist monk to benefit from the positive effects of meditation. “If you start to meditate, you will also see the same changes, already, after eight weeks. It is within the reach of everyone. There are a series of things that you can learn. “

♦ Professor Steven Laureys is a neurologist and research director at FNRS.

♦ He leads the Center of the brain2 at the CHU of Liège (Belgium) and the research unit, GIGA Consciousness and Coma Science Group of the University of Liège.

♦ He is known for his work on the consciousness of patients who have lesions in the brain.

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