New hope for memory loss and stress as meditators change the physical brain
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
In an extraordinary development that offers hope for people suffering from memory loss or stress, a group of meditators has changed the physical make-up of their brains just through focus and attention.
Scientists who monitored the group noted “measurable changes” in areas of the brain associated with memory, empathy and stress.
The meditators – who practised mindfulness meditation – achieved the changes in just eight weeks, say researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital.
Images of the group’s brains were taken before and after the two-month study. During the study, the meditators practised mindfulness for around 27 minutes a day. At the end of the eight weeks, the researchers noted increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus – an area of the brain associated with learning and memory – and in brain structures that relate to self-awareness, compassion and introspection.
Mindfulness meditation, based on the teachings of the Buddha, is a non-judgemental awareness of sensations, feelings and states of mind.
(Source: Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 2011; 191: 36).