More Good News About Meditation

The news about meditation just keeps getting better!  In a recent study by UCLA neuroimaging researchers suggest that people who meditate have stronger connections between brain regions and show less age-related brain atrophy. The benefit of having stronger brain connections is the rapid relay of the electrical signals in the brain which typically decreases with age.

Eileen Luders, a visiting assistant professor at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, led a team of investigators in the study using a new type of brain imaging (DTI) which provides insight into the structural connectivity of the brain. The study found that the differences between the meditators and the control group were not only in one area of the brain but involved networks that include most regions of the brain, and structures such as the limbic system and brain stem.
"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."

To read more about this study, click here for the UCLA press release

Grow Your Brain

It appears that the western world has just discovered the benefits of mindfulness!  For the last several of weeks my email inbox has been happily flooded with links to various articles singing the praises of mindfulness meditation training...I love this!!!  But what, you may ask, has fueled this sudden interest in mindfulness, and its ancient roots in eastern meditation practices?  Neuroimaging.  Yes, evidence-based biomedical research has finally caught up to our observational, and albeit anecdotal, research that has long suggested a positive psychosocial and physical benefit to mindfulness training. 

A new study, based on MRI scans of participants' brains pre and post an 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR) revealed structural changes, an increase of 1-3%, in the grey matter of the brain.  These changes were most significant in the areas responsible for learning, memory and emotional regulation.  Earlier studies have suggested an increase in brain activity/function in areas of the brain associated with positive emotion, optimism and focus.  Very powerful evidence that we have much more control than we imagine in growing and changing our brain and emotions.  Here is a link to an article which appeared this week, "Brain Gain" by Deborah Kotz in the Boston Globe

What are your experiences with mindfulness?  Do you need a refresher or are you interested in learning mindfulness skills?  I invite you to take a look at my website, Stress Resources, for ways to grow your brain and integrate mindfulness into your life.  I look forward to hearing from you and growing our brains together.