Neuroscience reveals what happens to the brain during silence.
by Erin Fitzgerald
Research has determined what happens to the brain during silence. Neuroscience reveals the benefits of listening to nothing. If you knew that some silence could benefit you and your health, would you make it a priority in your life?
As you may already know, too much noise is unhealthy. It is linked to sleep deprivation, increased blood pressure, and heart disease. During research, some benefits of silence were made apparent.
Several studies have been conducted to test the effects of noise. The most interesting part of the studies was what had been revealed during moments of silence in between each sound.
Did you know that silence regenerates brain cells? A study conducted on mice in 2013 showed that during two hours of complete silence, the part of the brain that is associated with memory, emotion, and learning called the hippocampus, developed new cells. Used as a preliminary study, it is possible that silence could someday be used as a therapy for Alzheimer’s, depression, and other neurological medical conditions.
Imke Kirste, a researcher, says that the new cells developed became functioning neurons.
“We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons and integrate into the system.”
Silence relieves stress, as loud noises releases cortisol. Dr. Craig Zimring, an environmental psychologist, revealed that in the neonatal intensive care units, loud noises elevated blood pressure, disrupted sleeping patterns, and increased heart rates.
Studies also show that children who live near railroads, highways, or airports have slower development of language and reading skills. Noise affects children’s school grades, as well as adults’ work performance. Cognitive functions that are mostly affected by noise are memory, problem solving, and reading comprehension.
A Cornell University professor of human ecology, Gary W. Evans, reveals that children exposed to a lot of noise develop an ignore response to the noise as a result of the stress it causes them. When the children ignore the noise, they also ignore different important things, such as speech and learning.
“This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise, even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage, causes stress and is harmful to humans.”
Take some time to meditate once a day. After meditating in silence, the brain makes some miraculous changes. The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) shows an increased amount of grey matter. ACC is associated with self-regulatory processes. Also, the prefrontal cortex grey matter increases, benefiting functions such as emotional regulation, planning, and problem solving.
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It has also been noted that meditation causes the amygdala to decrease in brain cell volume. When the amygdala decreases, fear and anxiety also decreases. Your concentration and attention increase during meditation as a result of the decrease of amygdala.
[Image via Shutterstock]
How is meditation done? When you meditate, your spine should always been straight and your head should slightly upward. Determine whether or not your eyes should be open. That depends on you and how you feel most comfortable. Use your breath as a focus. Think of nothing but the sound of your breathing. Count your breaths one, to two, to three, to four, then start over again.
When another thought comes to mind, concentrate on your breaths. Silence will allow your mind to be steady and calm. Meditate for 10-minutes each day and extend it up to 25-minutes as you become more comfortable.
Most importantly, enjoy your quiet time and meditation. Let the silence benefit your brain and your overall well-being. Take some time each day to enjoy silence and meditate. Perhaps your health and happiness will improve with just a little bit of silence each day.