Meditation and Brain Changes – Part 1

There are now numerous studies on meditation and its effects on brain structure and function. Using state of the art technology and imaging (fMRI or EEG) techniques, researchers are confirming numerous independent observations with detailed precision about brain behavior and function during meditation. The unanimous conclusion from all these findings is that meditation appears to have an amazing variety of neurological benefits. Undoubtedly, meditation has been shown to: reduce fear, worry, anxiety, anger, and rage, reduce chronic pain, increase cognitive function, lower blood pressure, alleviate post-traumatic stress syndrome and slow down cellular aging. For those suffering from age-associated memory impairment, meditation has been shown to reverse hippocampal degeneration and improve neuronal connectivity.

Recent studies also point to the role of meditation in structural changes in the brain in addition to functional changes. Long term meditators had better preserved brains associated with less reduction in brain volume than non-meditators as they aged. Participants who had been meditating for an average of 20 years had more grey matter volume throughout the brain. The volume of the grey matter is a measure of the density of brain cells and appears to correlate positively with various abilities and skills. While older and more experienced meditators exhibited some grey matter volume loss compared to younger meditators, this loss was less pronounced compared to non-meditators.

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