Does Meditation Prevent Brain Atrophy?

Meditation | Meditation Benefits Brain Growth And Increased Brain ActivityAs much as we all like to operate from the Peter Pan part of ourselves, getting older has its drawbacks. Sure you have a whole lot more understanding of how the world works and your place in it, and without question, you can serve as an example to the younger generation who is still trying to find their way. That said, unfortunately as a person begins to move toward the right side of the lifespan bell curve, the old body begins to break down a bit. And the brain isn’t immune.

Now for the good news:

Checkout this latest Kurzweil post on a recent UCLA study showing that meditation not only helps with brain connectivity, but that the alternative practice can also prevent (or delay) age-related brain atrophy. According to the study, meditation benefits the entire brain creating stronger connections that help to influence how the brain relays electrical signals.

Pronounced structural connectivity

The researchers used a type of brain imaging known as diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), a relatively new imaging mode that provides insights into the structural connectivity of the brain. They found that the differences between meditators and controls are not confined to a particular core region of the brain but involve large-scale networks that include the frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital lobes and the anterior corpus callosum, as well as limbic structures and the brain stem.

They found pronounced structural connectivity in meditators throughout the entire brain’s pathways. The greatest differences between the two groups were seen within the corticospinal tract (a collection of axons that travel between the cerebral cortex of the brain and the spinal cord), the superior longitudinal fasciculus (long bi-directional bundles of neurons connecting the front and the back of the cerebrum), and the uncinate fasciculus (white matter that connects parts of the limbic system, such as the hippocampus and amygdala, with the frontal cortex).

“Meditation appears to be a powerful mental exercise with the potential to change the physical structure of the brain at large,” said Eileen Luders of UCLA. “Collecting evidence that active, frequent, and regular meditation practices cause alterations of white-matter fiber tracts that are profound and sustainable may become relevant for patient populations suffering from axonal demyelination and white-matter atrophy.”

Read more from Kurzweil on this fascinating meditation study here.

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