A French genetic scientist may seem like an unusual person to hold the title - but Matthieu Ricard is the world's happiest man, according to researchers.
The 66-year-old turned his back on Parisian intellectual life 40 years ago and moved to India to study Buddhism. He is now a close confidante of the Dalai Lama and respected western scholar of religion. Now it seems daily meditation has had other benefits - enhancing Mr Ricard's capacity for joy.
Neuroscientist Richard Davidson
wired up the monk's skull with 256 sensors at the University of Wisconsin as part of research on hundreds of advanced practitioners of
The scans showed that when meditating on
compassion, Ricard's brain produces a level of gamma waves - those
linked to consciousness, attention, learning and memory - 'never
reported before in the neuroscience literature', Davidson said. The scans also showed excessive activity
in his brain's left prefrontal cortex compared to its right
counterpart, giving him an abnormally large capacity for happiness and a
reduced propensity towards negativity, researchers believe.
Research into the phenomenon, known as
"neuroplasticity", is in its infancy and Ricard has been at the
forefront of ground-breaking experiments along with other leading
scientists across the world.
Source - Daily Mail