A recent study by a team at the University of California has found that the brains of long term meditation practitioners shrink less and have stronger connections, potentially improving the ability of brain cells to relay electrical signals.
Study co-author Eileen Luders, visiting assistant professor at the university’s Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, said; ‘Our results suggest that long-term meditators have white-matter fibres that are either more numerous, more dense or more insulated throughout the brain. We also found that the normal age-related decline of white-matter tissue is considerably reduced in active meditation practitioners.’
Diffusion tensor imaging was used to scan study participants’ brains in order to detect differences in structural connectivity. Study subjects comprised 27 practitioners of meditation and 27 non-practitioners as a control group. The two groups exhibited significant differences in structural connectivity in the brain.
Luders said, ‘Meditation . . . might not only cause changes in brain anatomy by inducing growth, but also by preventing reduction. That is, if practiced regularly and over years, meditation may slow down ageing-related brain atrophy, perhaps by positively affecting the immune system.’
Making the point that those who meditate may have brains which are ‘fundamentally different’ to begin with, Luders posed a bit of a ‘chicken or egg’ conundrum, saying, ‘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.’
Source: HealthDay News/ NeuroImage