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Meditation Results in Brain Growth

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Updated November 15, 2005

Meditation Results in Brain Growth

Nov 13 2005

Do you meditate? We've known that meditation results in reduced stress, improved attention, and increased relaxation. New research out of Yale University has found that regular meditation practice results in increased thickness of grey matter in the cortex of the brain. The increases were found in areas that are involved in sensory, cognitive and emotional processing.

The study involved 20 participants with extensive training in "Buddhist Insight meditation." They meditated an average of 40 minutes per day.

Magnetic resonance imaging found that regular practice of meditation was specifically associated with increased thickness in brain regions related to sensory, auditory, visual and internal perception, such as heart rate or breathing. It also appears that regular meditation practice may slow age-related shrinkage of the frontal cortex. Changes were greatest in the right hemispheres of subjects' brains.

The authors of the study believe that other forms of yoga and meditation likely have a similar impact on brain structure, although each tradition would be expected to have a slightly different pattern of cortical thickening based on the specific mental exercises involved. If you don't practice meditation yet, you can start with this simple exercise.

Reference: NeuroReport 16: 1893-1897 (November 28, 2005)

Last updated 11/13/05

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