According to this report, mantra-based mindful meditation reduces the size of the amygdala:

Dispositional Mindfulness Co-Varies with Smaller Amygdala and Caudate Volumes in Community Adults
Adrienne A. Taren, J. David Creswell , Peter J. Gianaros
Published: May 22, 2013.

But this seems to be problematic, since a smaller amygdala correlates with psychopathy, while highly altruistic people have larger amygdalas:

The Fear Factor: How One Emotion Connects Altruists, Psychopaths, and Everyone In-Between,
Abigail Marsh, 2017, Basic Books, NY.

In a 2017 interview, Marsh states:

"The amygdala is essential for recognizing other people’s fear. The findings from our initial studies with children who are psychopathic show a reduced amygdala response when they’re shown pictures of fearful facial expressions. Their amygdala was also smaller. This was a really important clue.
People who are psychopathic have a fearless personality. Amygdala dysfunction impairs their ability to generate fear response, and identify other people’s fear. They actually can’t empathize with it. One boy I studied had lobbed a fake grenade into a building full of people to terrify them. When I asked him if he felt bad, he said, “Total Kodak moment.”
Altruistic kidney donors seemed to be the opposite of psychopaths: their amygdalae were larger and more responsive. People who are highly altruistic are really good at recognizing other people’s fear and that may be one reason they’re motivated to help."

Have there been any studies that considers the effect of mindful meditation on a possible decrease in the ability to feel empathy for others?

More Posts