A new study on meditation confirms what several previous studies have shown ~ that the practice actually results in physical changes to the brain. The researchers report that those who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had measurable changes in gray-matter density in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress.
Many people like myself who have meditated to some extent over the years and who’ve followed the scientific research have heard these reports before. Now, it seems, the findings are at last moving even farther into the realm of mainstream medicine.
According to the New York Times:
M.R.I. brain scans taken before and after the participants’ meditation regimen found increased gray matter in the hippocampus, an area important for learning and memory. The images also showed a reduction of gray matter in the amygdala, a region connected to anxiety and stress. A control group that did not practice meditation showed no such changes.
Previous studies have also shown that there are structural differences between the brains of meditators and those who don’t meditate, although this new study is the first to document changes in gray matter over time through meditation.
Britta Hölzel, psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School and the study’s lead author, said participants practiced mindfulness meditation, a form of meditation that was introduced in the United States in the late 1970s.
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