With all the amazing developments in the modern world, time may reveal that the most important development in our lifetime is the beginning of the interface between the subjective science of Asian contemplative practice with the objective science of the West. The first tentative handshakes between science and meditation began as attempts to objectively measure the effects of meditation with scientific instruments. That effort has picked up tremendous speed in the last ten years and now produces a veritable flood of new studies each year. But following in its wake has been what may turn out to be the true revolution.
I live in the West, where the buffalo roam (or once did) and so I am reluctant to utter a discouraging word, but let's be honest: the vast majority of people have never even tried meditation and, with given trends, never will. Even worse is that of those who actually DO try meditation, only a tiny fraction stick with it long enough to gain benefits. For most people the initial attempts at meditation are very challenging and the benefits are nowhere in sight. So they quit. At this rate, the benefits of meditation will continue to be enjoyed by a tiny fraction of humans while the rest wallow in suffering. Teachers constantly try to improve their methods to make the practice easier and more fruitful, just like they have for a thousand years, with essentially no significant result. But science may offer a new hope.
Science is looking beyond simply measuring the effects of meditation and is actively exploring ways to enhance meditation: making it easier to do and bringing the benefits more quickly. If this effort is successful - and there are reasons for optimism - the result may be nothing short of a fundamental change in human history.
SEMAlab at the University of Arizona is one research facility involved in this new endeavor. Here is a talk by Dr. Sanguinetti, the director of SEMAlab: https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=rGEjmwaIPZk