Over the last several years, there is an increasing amount of research that points to brain neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity refers to the changes in the brain, both in structure and function, as a result of experience.
In 2009, a study that looked at the practice of mindfulness and the amygdala, an area of the brain responsible for reacting to and appraising perceived threats. In class, I like to use the analogy of a fire alarm to explain how the amygdala functions. If stress is perceived, the amygdala sounds the alarm so that our bodies release hormones to help us cope with the threat.
The researchers found that, after training in Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction, the amygdala had become thinner and the degree of thinning was related to the changes in perceived stress. These findings point to, as I like to say, “less pulling of the fire alarm”.