Can Just a Little Meditation Change Brain Structure?

According to a new study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, the structure of a person’s brain can change after just eight weeks of practicing mindfulness meditation for about half an hour a day. They took brain images of people before and after they participated in a mindfulness meditation training program—learning to be aware of their feelings and sensations without judgment—and according to a write-up of the research:

The analysis of MR images, which focused on areas where meditation-associated differences were seen in earlier studies, found increased gray-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection. Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. Although no change was seen in a self-awareness-associated structure called the insula, which had been identified in earlier studies, the authors suggest that longer-term meditation practice might be needed to produce changes in that area.

Category: Neuroscience


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