Prior to this study, it had been shown that left-sided activity within several anterior brain regions is associated with positive emotion and has also been found in subjects with more dispositional positive effect. Measures of such activities were to be carried out before and after an 8 week mindfulness based meditation program. Then 4 months after the program the measurements would be taken again to test for durability of the adaptations. Previously, this left sided activity had also been associated with enhanced immune functions based on measures of Natural Killer Cell (NK) activity. NKs provide rapid responses to virally infected cells and also respond to tumour formation. This study would investigate this relationship again but now based on a measure of ant-body titers (concentration) in response to a vaccination.
“The findings from this study are the first to suggest that meditation can produce increases in relative left-sided anterior activation that are associated with reductions in anxiety and negative affect and increases in positive affect.”
Along with this, the meditators displayed a significantly greater rise in antibody titers when compared with the control subjects after the vaccination. Furthermore, those who showed a greater increase in left-sided activation also displayed a larger rise in antibody titers.
What we can draw from this is that there is biological evidence of improvements in acute and passive positive emotion caused by mindfulness based meditation. It is always great to have the evidence to support our experiences. We can also see though, that there is a distinct relationship between this ‘biological positive emotion’ and the state of our immune system. In order to avoid infection we need to stay happy.
Our journey to investigate the adaptations brought about by mindful techniques and meditation has just begun, yet already we have quite a few critical reasons to take these practices seriously.
Hang around, there is a lot more to come.
To read the study head over here.