London: Researchers say practicing meditation increases our ability to tap into the hidden recesses of our brain that are usually outside the reach of our conscious awareness.
The brain registers subliminal messages, but we are often unable to recall them consciously.
To test whether meditation has an effect on our ability to pick up subliminal messages, Madelijn Strick of Utrecht University in the Netherlands and colleagues recruited 34 experienced practitioners of Zen meditation and randomly assigned them to either a meditation group or a control group.
The meditation group was asked to meditate for 20 minutes in a session led by a professional Zen master. The control group was asked to merely relax for 20 minutes.
The volunteers were then asked 20 questions, each with three or four correct answers - for instance: “Name one of the four seasons”.
Just before the subjects saw the question on a computer screen one potential answer - such as “spring” - flashed up for a subliminal 16 milliseconds.
While the meditation group gave 6.8 answers, on average, that matched the subliminal words, the control group gave just 4.9, New Scientist reported.
Strick thinks that the explanation lies in the difference between what the brain is paying attention to and what we are conscious of.
She said meditators are potentially accessing more of what the brain has paid attention to than non-meditators.