Researchers at the University of Wisonsin Madison said that meditation can cultivate compassion and kindness. Meditation affects brain regions that can make a person more empathetic to other people’s mental state.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the study found that positive emotions such as loving kindness and compassion can be learned. Scans of subjects who had extensive experience in practicing compassion meditation showed that the brain circuits used to detect emotions and feelings where dramatically changed.

Associate scientist Antoine Lutz said the capacity to cultivate compassion may also be useful for preventing depression in people who are susceptible to it. The researchers are interested in teaching compassion meditation to young children as a way to prevent bullying, aggression, and violence.