Distracting thoughts have been implicated in a number of different mental-health problems including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety and major depression. One way of dealing with distracting thoughts is by meditation and a study of 24 people by researchers at Emory University School of Medicine has found that people who practise Zen meditation are able to recover from distractions more quickly than other people. Researchers compared 12 experienced Zen meditators with 12 non-meditators. Participants in the study took part in breathing exercises and were distracted at periodic intervals by a task in which they had to distinguish between real and nonsense words. At the same time participants' brains were scanned using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The participants who were experienced Zen meditators were able to bring activity in a region called the default mode network - associated with spontaneous thoughts and mind-wandering - under control after the interruptions more quickly than non-meditating participants.
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