Inspired living

Meditation makes you respond better to feedback

young man meditating outdoors

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Feedback is important for you to learn and grow in many areas of your life. How you react to and process feedback depends on dopamine levels in your brain. A new study from the University of Surrey has indicated that meditation may affect dopamine levels and thus impact the way you react to positive and negative feedback.

Meditators react to feedback in a more impartial manner compared to non-meditators.

For this study, 35 people were recruited from the local student population, Buddhist groups and the general public. The participants were a mixture of experienced, novice and non-meditators and were trained to select images relating to a reward. Each pair of images had varying probabilities of a reward. For example, images that result in a reward 80 per cent of the time versus those that result in a reward 20 per cent of the time. The participants were connected to an EEG to record electrical patterns in the brain.

The researchers found that participants who meditated were more successful in selecting high-probability parings of images and rewards compared to non-meditators. This indicates that those who meditate have a tendency to learn from positive outcomes compared to non-meditators who seem to learn from negative outcomes. EEG results showed that all three groups responded similarly to positive feedback. However, the neurological response to negative feedback was the highest in the non-meditation group, followed by the novice group and then by the experienced meditation group. The results suggest that the brains of the meditators are less affected by negative feedback, which could be due to altered dopamine levels resulting from meditation.

Focused attention meditation (FAM) practices are where meditators learn to maintain focus and attention despite the presence of distracting stimuli. Previous studies show that FAM practices seem to cause dopamine release, and this study suggests that meditation increases dopamine levels which vary according to the amount of meditation practice, thus altering feedback processing. Meditators react to feedback in a more impartial manner compared to non-meditators, suggesting that meditators are more likely to benefit psychologically from meditation practice.

Source: Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience


Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!