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14481Meditation alters the physical structure of the brain

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  • Tony Osime2
    Nov 15, 2005
      I thought you might find this interesting


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      A recently reported brain-scanning study has found evidence that sustained
      meditation alters the physical structure of the brain by increasing the
      thickness of the grey matter.

      The researchers, led by neuroscientist Sarah Lazar, scanned the brains of 20
      people with long-term experience of meditation, and compared them with 20
      other, non-meditating people.

      Brain regions associated with attention, sensation, perception and
      monitoring the body's internal state were thicker in meditation participants
      than in the comparison group.

      There is now increasing evidence - in line with a 2000 study, that reported
      that London Taxi drivers may have a larger hippocampus (an area of the brain
      known to be crucial for navigation), that mental practice may alter the
      brain's structure on a relatively large scale.

      Update: Grabbed from the comments page... Some cautionary words on
      interpreting 'cause' from this sort of study (Thanks 'Coffee Mug'!):

      The only way to say that meditation can alter the structure of the brain
      would be to do a longitudinal study following people who hadn't chosen to
      meditate prior to the study. Otherwise you run into the same problem as you
      did with the London cabbie study. Correlation is not causation. People born
      with bigger hippocampi might self-select as cab-drivers. People with bigger
      'attention centers' might be more predisposed to get into meditation.