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News: Evidence builds that meditation strengthens the brain, researchers say

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  • ken
    ... Subject: News: Evidence builds that meditation strengthens the brain, researchers say Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2012 08:49:42 -0400
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 16, 2012
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      -------- Original Message --------
      Subject: News: Evidence builds that meditation strengthens the
      brain, researchers say
      Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2012 08:49:42 -0400

      > <http://medicalxpress.com/>
      > Evidence builds that meditation strengthens the brain, researchers say
      > March 14th, 2012 in Neuroscience
      > *Earlier evidence out of UCLA suggested that meditating for years
      > thickens the brain (in a good way) and strengthens the connections
      > between brain cells. Now a further report by UCLA researchers suggests
      > yet another benefit.*
      > Eileen Luders, an assistant professor at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro
      > Imaging, and colleagues, have found that long-term meditators have
      > larger amounts of gyrification ("folding" of the cortex, which may
      > allow the brain to process information faster) than people who do not
      > meditate. Further, a direct correlation was found between the amount
      > of gyrification and the number of meditation years, possibly providing
      > further proof of the brain's neuroplasticity, or ability to adapt to
      > environmental changes.
      > The article appears in the online edition of the journal /Frontiers in
      > Human Neuroscience/.
      > The cerebral cortex is the outermost layer of neural tissue. Among
      > other functions, it plays a key role in memory, attention, thought and
      > consciousness. Gyrification or cortical folding is the process by
      > which the surface of the brain undergoes changes to create narrow
      > furrows and folds called sulci and gyri. Their formation may promote
      > and enhance neural processing. Presumably then, the more folding that
      > occurs, the better the brain is at processing information, making
      > decisions, forming memories and so forth.
      > "Rather than just comparing meditators and non-meditators, we wanted
      > to see if there is a link between the amount of meditation practice
      > and the extent of brain alteration," said Luders. "That is,
      > correlating the number of years of meditation with the degree of folding."
      > The researchers took MRI scans of 50 meditators, 28 men and 22 women,
      > and compared them to 50 control subjects matched for age, handedness
      > and sex. The scans for the controls were obtained from an existing MRI
      > database, while the meditators were recruited from various meditation
      > venues. The meditators had practiced their craft on average for 20
      > years using a variety of meditation types — Samatha, Vipassana, Zen
      > and more. The researchers applied a well-established and automated
      > whole-brain approach to measure cortical gyrification at thousands of
      > points across the surface of the brain.
      > They found pronounced group differences (heightened levels of
      > gyrification in active meditation practitioners) across a wide swatch
      > of the cortex, including the left precentral gyrus, the left and right
      > anterior dorsal insula, the right fusiform gyrus and the right cuneus.
      > Perhaps most interesting, though, was the positive correlation between
      > the number of meditation years and the amount of insular gyrification.
      > "The insula has been suggested to function as a hub for autonomic,
      > affective and cognitive integration," said Luders. "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."
      > While Luders cautions that genetic and other environmental factors
      > could have contributed to the effects the researchers observed, still,
      > "The positive correlation between gyrification and the number of
      > practice years supports the idea that meditation enhances regional
      > gyrification."
      > Provided by University of California - Los Angeles
      > //
      > "Evidence builds that meditation strengthens the brain, researchers
      > say." March 14th, 2012.
      > http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-03-evidence-meditation-brain.html
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