Mindfulness meditation training may help people overcome addiction by activating the brain centers involved in self-control and addictive tendencies, suggests research from the psychology departments of Texas Tech University and the University of Oregon. Scientists led by Yi-Yuan Tang, Ph.D., studied 61 volunteers, including 27 smokers, randomly divided into groups that either received mindfulness meditation training or relaxation training.
Two weeks later, after five hours of training, smoking among those in the meditative group decreased by 60 percent, while no significant reduction occurred in the relaxation group.
Brain imaging scans determined that the mindfulness meditation training produced increased activity in the anterior cingulate and the prefrontal cortex; regions associated with self-control. Past research led by Tang showed that smokers and those with other addictions exhibited less activity in these areas than those free of addictions. The current study previously determined that myelin and brain cell matter in these two brain regions increases through mindfulness meditation.