Science and Religion

Psychologists studying the effects of a meditation technique known as “mindfulness ” found that meditation-trained participants showed a significant improvement in their critical cognitive skills (and performed significantly higher in cognitive tests than a control group) after only four days of training for only 20 minutes each day.

from Science Daily

The specific technique was the vipissana meditation I have been using.  I do find the amazement of the researcher a little startling, as if he didn’t really expect meditation to have any effect.

Findings like these suggest that meditation’s benefits may not require extensive training to be realized, and that meditation’s first benefits may be associated with increasing the ability to sustain attention…

Since the first training is in meditation is to focus attention, and since these methods are thousands of years old, and similarly developed by other world religions as well as Buddhism, it would be surprising if they did not work.  Perhaps the surprise is the immediate benefit.  In any case, it is another example of the scientifically measurable effects of religious practice.

And this just in from Scientific American:

The largest trial to date of “brain-training” computer games suggests that people who use the software to boost their mental skills are likely to be disappointed.

The article goes on to say that perhaps the training period – six weeks – wasn’t long enough.  So we have six weeks of “brain-training” doesn’t boost cognitive skills, but 4 days of meditation does.  Hmmm.