January 22, 2011

Meditation changes the brain

A new study has confirmed that meditation, reported to increase awareness and calmness, actually does alter the brain. 

Participants in an 8 week meditation program practiced some 30 minutes of the exercises (similar to yoga) every day. As result their brains showed increase of grey matter in the hippocampus (learning and memory) and decrease of grey matter in the amygdala (fear and stress). No change was detected in the insula (self-awareness), reported to have changed in previous studies. The authors suspect that longer practice is needed for this last.

No such changes were detected in the control group, showing that the plastic changes in the brain were caused by the meditation exercises. 

Full story at Science Daily.

Ref. (pay per view): Britta K. Hölzel, James Carmody, Mark Vangel, Christina Congleton, Sita M. Yerramsetti, Tim Gard, Sara W. Lazar. Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 2011; 191 (1): 36 DOI: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2010.08.006

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