May 25, 2009

Meditation may lead to a bigger brain

Push-ups may lead to a better body, but meditation may lead to a better brain, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, said.

The researchers used high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging to scan the brains of people who meditate.

The study, published in the journal NeuroImage, found certain regions in the brains of long-term meditators were larger than in a control group.

We know that people who consistently meditate have a singular ability to cultivate positive emotions, retain emotional stability and engage in mindful behavior, lead author Eileen Luders, a postdoctoral research fellow at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, said in a statement. The observed differences in brain anatomy might give us a clue why meditators have these exceptional abilities.

Those who meditated showed significantly larger volume of the hippocampus and areas within the orbito-frontal cortex, the thalamus and the inferior temporal gyrus -- all regions known for regulating emotions.

Luders and colleagues examined 44 people -- 22 control subjects and 22 who had practiced various forms of meditation -- including Zazen, Samatha and Vipassana, among others.