Meditation and Brain Plasticity

Posted by on Apr 12, 2016 in Blog, Lifestyle Adjustments, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Researchers in Massachusetts ran an eight-week study which observed structural changes in the human brain, produced by meditation.
The study was conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital, by a team of Harvard-affiliated researchers.

“‘Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,’ says study senior author Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology. ‘This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.’” (Source)

Previous studies, led by Lazar’s research group, found structural differences between the brains of subjects who regularly meditated, and those whom had never meditation.
The most recent study involved a group of 16 participants. Magnetic resonance (MR) images were taken of the participants’ brains two weeks before, and after, they participated in the eight week test.
The study subjects were split into two groups: meditators, and non-meditators.
The constituents of both groups had no prior experience with meditation. The “meditation group” participated in The Mindfulness Meditation program, at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness, during the eight weeks.

At the end of the eight weeks, the MR images taken of the non-meditators showed no significant difference in brain density.
The MR images of the meditator group, however, showed interesting results. The density of grey-matter increased in the hippocampus (the part of the brain relating to memory, learning, self-awareness, and introspection), but decreased in the the amygdala (the part of the brain that manages feelings of stress and anxiety).

For more information about meditation and brain plasticity, watch this video:

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James Asher

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