Research on the physiological effects of meditation led to the application of meditative techniques as a treatment to combat stress-related illnesses. Meditators have often experienced significant decreases in such problems as general anxiety, high blood pressure, alcoholism, drug addiction, insomnia, and other stress-related problems. Researchers have also found that the scores of meditators on various psychological tests have indicated general mental health, self-esteem, and social openness. Many psychologists argue, however, that these effects are not unique to meditation and can be produced by means of other relaxation techniques. Meditation researcher Robert Ornstein has suggested that the long-term practice of meditation may induce a relative shift in hemispheric dominance in the brain from the left hemisphere, which is associated with such linear processes as language and logical reasoning, to the right hemisphere, which is associated with nonlinear processes such as music perception and spatial reasoning. Consistent with this idea are findings that meditators are better on certain right-hemispheric tasks such as remembering musical tones but worse on verbal problem-solving tasks that involve the left hemisphere.
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