Meditation is one of the strategies to develop a bigger brain.
And is that meditation can lead to considerable changes in the structure of the brain. And not says a group new age, nor a few lovers of pseudoscience or spirituality, but a team of psychiatrists led by Massachusetts General Hospital, who has conducted the first study to document how to exercise meditation can affect the brain.
According to their findings, published in Psychiatry Research, the practice of a meditation program for eight weeks can lead to considerable changes in brain regions associated with memory, self-awareness, empathy and stress.
“Something that is considered spiritual, transforms us physically and can improve our wellbeing and our health”, unveiled the medical researcher Ivan Renato Zuniga.
This research, he added, demonstrates that changes in brain structure may be behind these proven benefits, and that people do not feel better only because they have been relaxed.
For the current study, the scientists took magnetic resonance imaging of the brain structure of 16 volunteers two weeks before and after a meditation course of eight weeks, a program to reduce stress coordinated by the University of Massachusetts.
In addition to the weekly meetings, the volunteers received some audio recordings to follow with his musings on home. The participants spent 27 minutes each day practicing these exercises.
Your answers to a medical questionnaire indicated significant improvements compared with responses prior to the course.
The analysis of the magnetic resonance imaging found an increase in grey matter density in the hippocampus, a brain area important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self awareness, compassion and introspection.
In addition, it was found a decrease of gray matter in the brain’s amygdala, which is related to a decrease the stress. None of these changes were observed in the control group of other volunteers.
This finding opens the door to new therapies for patients suffering from serious problems of stress.
In another study a group of researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) also used magnetic resonance imaging at high resolution to scan the brain of people who practice meditation.
In this study, it is revealed that certain regions of the brain of such people are larger than in subjects of a control group similar in every way except that it does not practice meditation. Meditators showed significantly greater volumes in the hippocampus and areas within the cortex, orbito-frontal, thalamus and gyrus inferior temporal regions, all of them known as regulators of emotions.
Within the beneficial aspects of meditation are able to concentrate better and control more effectively their emotions; people who meditate regularly have stress levels below normal and an enhanced immune system.
The researchers discovered, to make the brain measurements, values were significantly higher in the meditators, in comparison with the subjects in the control group.
For example, larger volumes of the right hippocampus and more gray matter in the cortex orbito frontal right, the right thalamus and the temporal lobe at lower left.
What you don’t know, is what exactly in the field of microscopic brain improvements, either a greater number of neurons, a larger size of these, or a pattern of “interconnection” in particular, meditators may develop and the other people that do not meditate did not.
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