Meditation rebuilds gray matter of brain

Studies of Harvard University of Harvard-affiliated researchers at Massachusettes General Hopsital reported results of a study where meditation changed over time the brain´s grey matter.

Why is this so striking?
“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 instructor in psychology.

This study demontrates 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. In this study, executed with a control group without meditation, it was shown that those undergoing daily 27 minutes of mindfulness meditation found an increase of gray matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection.

Participants reported a reduction in stress which correlated with a decrease in gray matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. None of these changes were seen in the control group.

“It is fascinating to see the brain´s plasticity and that, by practising meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life,” says Britta Hötzel, first author of the paper and a research feloow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany.


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