This finding is of particular significance because the amygdala has been identified in neurobiological studies as a brain structure that plays a crucial role in stress responses.
In this study, individuals who were stressed but otherwise healthy participated in an eight-week program of MBSR. At the end of the program, each participant reported a significant decrease in their perceived stress, as compared to before treatment.
MR images of each participant’s brain were obtained both before and after the MBSR program. The images showed a decrease in the density of the amygdala gray matter after the program, when the participants reported feeling less stress.
This is the first study to draw a link between physical neuroplastic changes and alterations in the one’s psychological state.