The imagination is a powerful tool. Tibetan visualisation meditations have been a key feature in Buddhist culture for thousands of years. Magic too was often made of using mental powers to improve favour from spiritual forces, was this a psychological and natural phenomenon? Perhaps so. There are people who are good at imagining, and some who are not. Those who are not particularly imaginative are free from all kinds of unhelpful things, mental health issues may not present themselves in the same way and they're less likely to be distracted or even deceived by their own eyes. For those who have vivid imaginations, if we learn to control it then it becomes a focusable part of our consciousness.
An experiment was recently conducted which looked at brain waves with an MRI Scanner. Groups of people were asked to tell the researchers the names of people they like and people they dislike. They were also asked to name a place they considered emotionally neutral, as in they had no particular feelings either way for the situation. Participants were then asked to imagine themselves in the building with the person they liked. This was while their brains were being monitored. The brains showed a type of learning that associated the positive effects of the liked person with the neutral place. Even though they weren't actually there, in the brain where the biology of our thinking happens, it didn't matter.
The particular area of the brain involved is called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. This area is associated with memory of person and place. This joining of function perhaps makes it easier for the mind to learn emotional relevance across these two things. Somehow, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex is able to weigh up positive and negative elements about people and places and allow us to feel good or bad about them. This can be manipulated by us in our imaginations, so the experiment proves. The benefits of this are wide-reaching. I'm sure you can imagine a few.
Think about people who have trauma, they can revisit the experience in their mind with someone they really like. Someone who helps them feel safe perhaps. Maybe I could take Arnie with me to pay a visit to those nasty kids at school or maybe Carol Vorderman for when my good ideas were laughed at. Let's see where that takes us! Some of us have more serious things to call trauma, for instance there are plenty of people alive today who have experienced war first hand. This no doubt will leave mental scars, the loss, the fear, the anger, the grief, all of it can be revisited with a favourite person.
I'm really excited about this finding, and I hope you are too.
Via Science Daily
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