2011 Study: Meditation May Have Potential to Change Brain’s Physical Structure |

Leave a comment

February 21 by The Running Son

Is Meditation the Push-Up for the Brain? Study Shows Practice May Have Potential to Change Brain’s Physical Structure

July 14, 2011 — Two years ago, researchers at UCLA found that specific regions in the brains of long-term meditators were larger and had more gray matter than the brains of individuals in a control group. This suggested that meditation may indeed be good for all of us since, alas, our brains shrink naturally with age.

Now, a follow-up study suggests that people who meditate also have stronger connections between brain regions and show less age-related brain atrophy. Having stronger connections influences the ability to rapidly relay electrical signals in the brain. And significantly, these effect s are evident throughout the entire brain, not just in specific areas.

Eileen Luders, a visiting assistant professor at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, and colleagues used a type of brain imaging known as diffusion tensor imaging, or DTI, a relatively new imaging mode that provides insights into the structural connectivity of the brain. They found that the differences between meditators and controls are not confined to a particular core region of the brain but involve large-scale networks that include the frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital lobes and the anterior corpus callosum, as well as limbic structures and the brain stem.

The study appears in the current online edition of the journal NeuroImage.

“Our results suggest that long-term meditators have white-matter fibers that are either more numerous, more dense or more insulated throughout the brain,” Luders said. “We also found that the normal age-related decline of white-matter tissue is considerably reduced in active meditation practitioners.”

The study consisted of 27 active meditation practitioners (average age 52) and 27 control subjects, who were matched by age and sex. The meditation and the control group each consisted of 11 men and 16 women. The number of years of meditation practice ranged from 5 to 46; self-reported meditation styles included Shamatha, Vipassana and Zazen, styles that were practiced by about 55 percent of the meditators, either exclusively or in combination with other styles.

Results showed pronounced structural connectivity in meditators throughout the entire brain’s pathways. The greatest differences between the two groups were seen within the corticospinal tract (a collection of axons that travel between the cerebral cortex of the brain and the spinal cord); the superior longitudinal fasciculus (long bi-directional bundles of neurons connecting the front and the back of the cerebrum); and the uncinate fasciculus (white matter that connects parts of the limbic system, such as the hippocampus and amygdala, with the frontal cortex).

“It is possible that actively meditating, especially over a long period of time, can induce changes on a micro-anatomical level,” said Luders, herself a meditator.

As a consequence, she said, the robustness of fiber connections in meditators may increase and possibly lead to the macroscopic effects seen by DTI.

“Meditation, however, might not only cause changes in brain anatomy by inducing growth but also by preventing reduction,” Luders said. “That is, if practiced regularly and over years, meditation may slow down aging-related brain atrophy, perhaps by positively affecting the immune system.”

But there is a “but.” While it is tempting to assume that the differences between the two groups constitute actual meditation-induced effects, there is still the unanswered question of nature versus nurture.

“It’s possible that meditators might have brains that are fundamentally different to begin with,” Luders said. “For example, a particular brain anatomy may have drawn an individual to meditation or helped maintain an ongoing practice — meaning that the enhanced fiber connectivity in meditators constitutes a predisposition towards meditation, rather than being the consequence of the practice.”

Still, she said, “Meditation appears to be a powerful mental exercise with the potential to change the physical structure of the brain at large. Collecting evidence that active, frequent and regular meditation practices cause alterations of white-matter fiber tracts that are profound and sustainable may become relevant for patient populations suffering from axonal demyelination and white-matter atrophy.”

But, Luders said, more research is needed before taking meditation into clinical trial studies.

Other authors of the study included Kristi Clark, Katherine L. Narr and Arthur W. Toga.

The study was supported by the UCLA Brain Mapping Center, and funding was provided by the Brain Mapping Medical Research Organization, the Robson Family and Northstar Fund, and the following foundations: Brain Mapping Support, Pierson-Lovelace, Ahmanson, Tamkin, William M. & Linda R. Dietel Philanthropic Fund at the Northern Piedmont Community, Jennifer Jones-Simon, and Capital Group Companies. The study was also supported by the Human Brain Project and the National Institutes of Health. The authors report no conflict of interest.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of California – Los Angeles. The original article was written by Mark Wheeler.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Journal Reference:

  1. Eileen Luders, Kristi Clark, Katherine L. Narr, Arthur W. Toga. Enhanced brain connectivity in long-term meditation practitioners. NeuroImage, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.05.075

♫ Talk to Jim...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

RFB editor Jim Aldrich, Joshua Tree CA 2013

RunningSon aka Jim Aldrich, Joshua Tree CA 2013 | This site is dedicated with the deepest gratitude to Dr. Cláudio Naranjo, whose writings gave me life.

  • 276,493 souls hit the RFB

Click to Follow the RFB!

Join 1,023 other followers

Recent Posts…

Some RFB Followers…

Flag Counter
DoubleU = W

WITHIN ARE PIECES OF ME

UP!::urban po'E.Tree(s)

by po'E.T. and the colors of pi

The shadows of a dream

Words walking the tightrope from functionality to versification.

Connecting Beyond

Beyond The Known

presentlymine

spice up your life vanilla style

galaktikapoetikeatunis

A topnotch WordPress.com site

forgottenmeadows

thoughts from my mind to yours

A Mirror Obscura,

Poetry, musings and sightings from where the country changes

annamosca

Poetic Landscapes Of The Spirit

Bilder

Ein schöner Tag - wenn er zu Ende geht, ist nichts mehr, wie es war...

realtalented

Im here to expose true talent

phillymanjim's Blog

Poetry, Musings, Photographs

Blog It Or Lose It

Paloma's Pen

The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

Here and now, with all of it.

Tania Marie

Creating Life As A Work Of Art With A Magick Rabbit By My Side

seanbidd.wordpress.com/

Nomadic & transient tales from a boutique photographer, writer and multimedia creative.

belsbror

Simple Living

Papermashed

A place for all that inspires me, especially to write.

Smuggling Bay

About expression

leather green gargoyle

what I hear, what I read, what I write

Gray Poet

Just a place to express my poems.

HA's Place

the lived experiences and musings of an organic, home-grown poet

sharkouni

The greatest WordPress.com site in all the land!

Notes on a Spanish Valley

Award-winning blog - Living in rural Andalucia

Wendy L. Macdonald

My faith is not shallow because I've been rescued from the deep.

idealisticrebel

Women's Issues, Peace, Creativity & Spirituality

intotheindigo

My muse's quiet amusement

The Bully Pulpit

(n): An office or position that provides its occupant with an outstanding opportunity to speak out on any issue.

Poemotherapi Shoppe

"Oh How Art Thou Love Of Poetry"

hammerwerk

light_and_shadow

I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

∙ tenderheartmusings ∙

we were born naked onto the page of existence; with nothing but the pen of our soul to write ourselves into eternal ecstasy ~ DreamingBear Baraka Kanaan

Traces of the Soul

Whispering insights of this, that, then and there

"we'll never be royals."

Small artists with big potential and lots of cliché.

ldr13

A Long Distance Relationship Blog. Join the FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/theLDRdiaries13

David Emeron: Sonnets

If I swore not to describe my heart, would it stop beating forever?

PICZLoad pics a la carte

Watchout Loud and Have PICBliss!

Simple Pleasures

Visual Poetry, Photography and Quotes

Of Distant Places

How it feels like feeling home to a person who lives 8,000 miles away

Manang Bok's House

Atrocities are sometimes nothing less than the vengeance of the tormented. (Louis de Bernieres)

going the distance for love blog

Life in a long distance relationship

Blase'

My heart, mind and soul...transcribed!

%d bloggers like this: