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Thread: Meditation can alter brain structure

  1. #1

    Meditation can alter brain structure

    Dear all

    my first post - takes deep breath

    I read in the paper that meditation is good for you:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/lif...cle3554215.ece

    Long-term meditation seems not only to alter brain-wave patterns: early research suggests that it may also result in changes in the actual structure of the cortex, the outer parts of our brains. “We have found that brain regions associated with attention and sensory processing were thicker in meditators than in the controls,” says Dr Sara Lazar, an assistant in psychology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

    “The data give credence to some of the claims of long-term meditators and suggests that meditation can play a role in reducing stress, improving emotion regulation and perhaps slowing the effects of ageing on brains - slowing the normal decrease in mental agility, ability to learn new things and memory that comes with age.”
    Nice to know - that on the days I don't practice & I notice the difference in my outlook to the world - that science has the answer

    Best wishes

    Jools

  2. #2
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    Re: Meditation can alter brain structure

    Jools,
    Don't forget to exhale :wink:

    The field of neuroplasticity is a new and exciting one - the ability of the brain to adapt, form new neural pathways when original ones are underutilized or damaged (whether by physical or chemical injury) is only now being understood and explored. James Austen, in his book Zen and the Brain talks a lot about the subject you raise here, I recommend it highly. I took an active interest early on in this matter due to a traumatic head injury years ago (ended up with a plate in my head) that resulted in interesting behaviors over time. The medical professionals I consulted of course suggested medication ( I declined), I have found Zen, exercise, and the support of family and a community to have saved my life. Austen's book really helped validate my direction.

    I have also learned that when I meditate, I should do so for no reason, and expect nothing to come of it! :wink:

    It is good to see you on the forum. Welcome, and I look forward to your posts!

    Regards,
    Alex

  3. #3

    Re: Meditation can alter brain structure

    Hello,

    Thanks for the link to the article. I will be watching the program tonight.

    Here is an exert from the book Alex mentions.

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=8...bnail#PPR19,M1

  4. #4

    Re: Meditation can alter brain structure

    They just wrapped up the clinical phase(?) of the Shamatha project, something they've been covering on the Buddhist Geeks podcast, really interesting stuff. I think its one of the biggest ever scientific studies on meditation and the physiological changes it produces.

    http://www.shambhalamountain.org/shamatha/

    http://www.fallingfruit.tv/search/node/shamatha

    Skye

  5. #5

    Re: Meditation can alter brain structure

    Hi guys

    thanks for the response & guidance & links.

    Alex - I worked as a student nurse on a neurosurgical ward in the mid eighties, all very traumatic from my side of the fence, it must have been a tough ride for you. I am glad you were able to find you way back....

    and breathe...... :lol:

    Jools

  6. #6

    Re: Meditation can alter brain structure

    I just listened to the Buddhist Geeks podcast yesterday. Yeah, neural plasticity IS cool.

    I wonder what metta meditation can do for subjects. I just something in Nature today where a region of the brain becomes active when people judge themselves. This region also becomes active when people are asked to predict what someone, who they think are "like them", is thinking. In other words, they are able to "put themselves into one another's shoes". However, this region remains inactive when they perceive the other person to not be like them (another race, country, etc.). This shows that empathy (truly becoming the other person) is partially affected by a certain region of the brain. Now, if they took Buddhists who have experience with metta practice and compare them to other people, would Buddhists be more likely to activate that part of the brain for a larger diversity of people than the average person?

  7. #7

    Re: Meditation can alter brain structure

    Quote Originally Posted by TracyF
    I just listened to the Buddhist Geeks podcast yesterday. Yeah, neural plasticity IS cool.

    I wonder what metta meditation can do for subjects. I just something in Nature today where a region of the brain becomes active when people judge themselves. This region also becomes active when people are asked to predict what someone, who they think are "like them", is thinking. In other words, they are able to "put themselves into one another's shoes". However, this region remains inactive when they perceive the other person to not be like them (another race, country, etc.). This shows that empathy (truly becoming the other person) is partially affected by a certain region of the brain. Now, if they took Buddhists who have experience with metta practice and compare them to other people, would Buddhists be more likely to activate that part of the brain for a larger diversity of people than the average person?
    Interesting, Tracy - surely a survival mechanism from earlier days, us/our tribe vs them. Perhaps it's something holding us back that we need to unlearn. Actually scratch that, it's still useful - its just something we need to recognize for what it is so that it doesn't have the same hold on us..?

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