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Neuroscience and Society: The Meditating Brain

September 28, 2017 @ 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm

From contemplation to prayer, forms of meditation exist in every society. Now, using up-to-date technologies, these ancient practices are being increasingly studied by neurologists. Although learning to meditate—to turn off all distractions—is no easy task, the advertised benefits claim it to be worthwhile. Such alleged benefits include the “calming” of neurotransmitters, beating addiction, and even building a bigger brain. Published studies argue that meditation can produce structural alterations in the brain and may even slow the progress of certain age-related atrophy. Similarly, some yoga advocates claim that the practice, which is explored as a treatment for major depressive disorders, expands mental faculties. Further, prayer, according to the Huffington Post, can help dissuade impulsive actions. Neuroimaging technologies are revealing changes in blood flow to areas of the brain, indicating more activity. This program will explore the neurological bases of these claims, if any, by explaining how the mind and body talk with one another during the acts of meditation, yoga, and prayer.

Presenters:

Sara Lazar, Ph.D. — Medication and the Brain
Assistant Professor, Psychology
Harvard University

Andrew B. Newberg, M.D. — The Brain on Religion
Director of Research, Marcus Institute of Integrative Health
Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital

Chris Streeter, M.D. — The Neuroscience of Yoga
Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Neurology
Boston University School of Medicine

This event is part of the 2017 Neuroscience and Society series, a partnership between the Dana Foundation and AAAS.

5:30 p.m. EST
September 28, 2017
Reception to Follow

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Venue

AAAS Headquarters
1200 New York Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20005 United States
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