Meditation and the Brain with Daniel Siegel, MD (BSP 44)

Daniel Siegel, M.D.

In Episode 44 of the Brain Science Podcast I talk with Daniel Siegel, MD about meditation and the brain.  Dr. Siegel is the author of several books including The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being.  In this interview, we review the scientific evidence about how mindfulness meditation changes the brain, both in terms of short term activity and in terms of long-term structural changes.  The evidence is convincing that a regular mindfulness practice can be an important element of brain health.

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Show Notes and Links

Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.:

Scientists and writers mentioned in Episode 44:

More information about meditation:

Note: Insight Meditation is based of vipassana meditation, the mindfulness practices of Theravada, the oldest branch of Buddhism.  Insight Meditation is easily adapted to secular purposes because it not based on beliefs or dogmas.  The most well-known secular form is called mindfulness meditation, which begins with a focus on breath awareness and then advances to developing compassion for oneself and others.

Researchers are studying people who practice other types of mediation also. Richard Davidson has focused his work on the study of Tibetan Buddhist monks.  Their practice emphasizes the development of compassion.

*I discussed the therapeutic use of mediation with Delany Dean, PhD, in Episode 20 of Books and Ideas.

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Dan Rather's Reports on Neuroplasticity

Today HDNet™ is re-showing an episode of Dan Rather Reports called "Mind Science."  It is an excellent review of neuroplasticity. It includes interviews with several leading scientists in the field.  I especially enjoyed seeing Nobel Laureate, Eric Kandel, talk about his work with memory.  (I talked about Kandel's work on the Brain Science Podcastin Episode 3 and Episode 12.)

"Mind Science" also features the Dalai Llama and scientist, Richard Davidson, talking about the evidence that meditation can change the brain.  Rather interviews Sharon Begley about her book, Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves  (which I discussed in detail in Episode 10 of the Brain Science Podcast).  Other scientists featured in the episode include Michael Merzenich on improving brain function as we age, and Dr. Edward Taub on his revolutionary approach to stroke rehabilitation.  (My show notes for Episode 10 include links for all the scientists interviewed by Rather.)

It was particulary gratifying to see Dr. Kandel endorse Ed Taub's Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy.  Dr. Taub was interviewed in Episode 28 of the Brain Science Podcast.  If you don't get HDNet™, you can watch Dan Rather Reports on-line, via podcast or on Facebook.

Summary of relevant episodes of the Brain Science Podcast::