Friday, July 15, 2011

Meditate Away the Aging Brain

This recent news item highlights some unusual findings with respect to meditation practice. Basically they found that:

Meditation prevents age related cerebral atrophy.
Meditation *appears* to be strengthens the connections between various brain regions.

This study is one in a long line of meditation studies pointing to the potential value of meditation not just in addressing conditions like depression, and also improving immune function but modulating the stress response and most importantly, promoting happiness. The abstract is below:

Enhanced brain connectivity in long-term meditation practitioners

Very little is currently known about the cerebral characteristics that underlie the complex processes of meditation as only a limited number of studies have addressed this topic. Research exploring structural connectivity in meditation practitioners is particularly rare. We thus acquired diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data of high angular and spatial resolution and used atlas-based tract mapping methods to investigate white matter fiber characteristics in a well-matched sample of long-term meditators and controls (n = 54). A broad field mapping approach estimated the fractional anisotropy (FA) for twenty different fiber tracts (i.e., nine tracts in each hemisphere and two inter-hemispheric tracts) that were subsequently used as dependent measures. Results showed pronounced structural connectivity in meditators compared to controls throughout the entire brain within major projection pathways, commissural pathways, and association pathways. The largest group differences were observed within the corticospinal tract, the temporal component of the superior longitudinal fasciculus, and the uncinate fasciculus. While cross-sectional studies represent a good starting point for elucidating possible links between meditation and white matter fiber characteristics, longitudinal studies will be necessary to determine the relative contribution of nature and nurture to enhanced structural connectivity in long-term meditators.
Neuroimage, Volume 57, Issue 4, 15 August 2011, pages 1308-1316 

1 comment:

Stress Relif Medication said...

So thanks for an informative and entertaining article which has pulled me away from the day job for a happy five minutes!