Professor Flanagan said the findings are ‘tantalising’ because the left prefrontal lobes of Buddhist practitioners appear to ‘light up’ consistently, rather than just during acts of meditation.
‘Buddhists are not born happy. It is not reasonable to suppose that Tibetan Buddhists are born with a 'happiness gene'. The most reasonable hypothesis is there is something about conscientious Buddhist practice that results in the kind of happiness we all seek,’ he writes.
Another study of Buddhists by scientists at the University of California has also found that meditation might tame the amygdala, the part of the brain involved with fear and anger.
Professor Flanagan writes: ‘Antidepressants are currently the favoured method for alleviating negative emotions, but no antidepressant makes a person happy. On the other hand, Buddhist meditation and mindfulness, which were developed 2,500 years before Prozac, can lead to profound happiness.’