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Go Zen! Meditation Speeds Up the Brain

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Many people dismiss meditation as a bunch of spiritual, woolly nonsense. Sitting in an uncomfortable lotus position for hours, while worshiping Buddha and singing mantra’s with crazy hippies.

Although there are a lot of sceptics , mediation is a growing field of scientific research. What Buddhists, yogis and ayurvedic doctors have said for centuries, scientist are now trying to prove: the benefits of meditation. Earlier evidence confirms that long-term meditators have more gray matter, stronger connections between brain regions, and less age-related brain atrophy. Now, a new study of the University of California Los Angeles suggests another benefit.

The researchers used MRI scans to compare the brains of 50 meditators to 50 non-meditators. What they discovered was that long-term meditators have larger amounts of gyrification, or folding of the cortex, than people who do not meditate. It seems that the more folded the brain is, the quicker it can process information. Even more interesting, the researchers found a direct correlation between the number of years spent meditating and the amount of gyrification, which suggests that, over time, people who meditate see an increase in the speed at which they can process information.

“Meditators are known to be masters in introspection and awareness as well as emotional control and self-regulation, so the findings make sense that the longer someone has meditated, the higher the degree of folding in the insula,” said Eileen Luders, an assistant professor at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging.

Something to think about, you skeptics. To those who cannot wait to start meditating after reading about all these benefits I have to admit that the studied meditators had on average 20 years’ experience in meditation. But what is 20 years if you can develop a super fast brain? Go Zen!

Source: Science Daily

Luders, E., Kurth, F., Mayer, E., Toga, A., Narr, K., & Gaser, C. (2012). The Unique Brain Anatomy of Meditation Practitioners: Alterations in Cortical Gyrification Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6 DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00034

Photo: Alice Popkorn / Flickr

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