Why Do Studies of Meditation and the Brain Matter?

October 30, 2014 3:12 PM

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Is the general public overvaluing and misunderstanding the significance of scientific studies of meditation and the brain? These were the questions that I and my scientific and scholarly colleagues wrestled with at our 1-day meeting at the Mind and Life House in Amherst, Massachusetts, over the summer that was called in response to fulsomely positive articles in the media. We had a spirited discussion that has resulted in a position paper that that puts the public's overestimation of the brain science of meditation in a broader context.

The basic problem that we struggled with was how we could help the public understand the meaning and significance of the studies cited in popular articles. Take, for example, this article in Lifehacker. The simple declarative headline, "what happens to the brain when you meditate," makes it sound as...

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