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How meditation helps to have a healthy mind

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have proposed a new model that shifts how we think about mindfulness.

Rather than describing mindfulness as a single dimension of cognition, the researchers demonstrate that mindfulness actually involves a broad framework of complex mechanisms in the brain.

In essence, they have laid out the science behind mindfulness.

Achieving mindfulness through meditation has helped people maintain a healthy mind by quelling negative emotions and thoughts, such as desire, anger and anxiety, and encouraging more positive dispositions such as compassion, empathy and forgiveness.
But how exactly does it works has remained unknown, until now.

The new model was recently presented to His Holiness The Dalai Lama in a private meeting, entitled “Mind and Life XXIV: Latest Findings in Contemplative Neuroscience.”

The researchers identified several cognitive functions that are active in the brain during mindfulness practice.

Wonderpill that can halt Alzheimer’s

A wonderpill which can halt and may even reverse Alzheimer’s disease is set to go through a series of trials and researchers said the twice-daily pill could be available on prescription to hundreds of thousands of patients within four years.

It has been hailed as the “biggest breakthrough against the disease for 100 years” and previous research had found that it could slow the progression of Alzheimer’s by 90 per cent over two years.

The researchers believe the drug, which is going to through what is known as a Phase 3 trial, could also be given to those at risk of the disease to prevent it from striking.

“This is a major milestone for us to have got to. If we can pull off a Phase 3 trial then we will significantly improve the quality of life of people with Alzheimer’s disease,” the Daily Express quoted Claude Wischik, professor of Old Age Psychiatry at the University of Aberdeen, as saying.

“We hope to at least replicate [the Phase 2] effect of halting disease progression. It means if we can attack the disease early enough we can reverse the disease, we can bring [patients] back from the precipice.

Flavour in food can boost expectations of fullness

Researchers have suggested that subtle manipulations of texture and creamy flavour can increase the expectation that a fruit yoghurt drink will be filling and suppress hunger regardless of actual calorific content.

There is a currently a debate about satiety, how full low calorie foods and drinks make people feel and for how long, and whether or not they actually make people eat or drink more because the body is expecting more calories than are actually provided.

Researchers from the University of Sussex designed an experiment to first see whether or not adding a thickening agent (tara gum) increased the sensation of thickness, stickiness and creaminess of a yoghurt drink, and then looked at how these affected expected fullness and expected satiety.

The results showed that even people who are not trained in food tasting were able to accurately pick up subtle differences in drink texture even though the taste remained the same.

In the second phase of the experiment subjects rated how filling they expected a drink to be by selecting a portion of pasta that they thought would have the same effect on their hunger as drinking a bottle of yoghurt.

On average the thick drinks and the creamy drinks were expected to be more filling than the thin or non-creamy versions, and enhancing the creamy flavour of a thick drink further increased expected fullness.

However their contributions to expected satiety were not equal - only thickness (and not creaminess) had an effect on the expectation that a drink would suppress hunger over time.

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