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Meditators have more grey matter, study finds
by Sharon Kirkey
National Post Translate This Article
17 November 2005
On 17 November 2005 National Post reported:
According to recent scientific research, people who meditate report less stress, the absence of which has been linked to more vital brain functioning and structure, as well as halting shrinkage of the part of the brain involved in memory and learning.
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Author Sharon Kirkey reported on research being conducted on a form of Buddhist meditation and on the Transcendental Meditation Technique. Using magnetic resonance imaging, Boston researchers studied nine-year Buddhist meditators and found that parts of the brain important for attention and sensory processing—how we take in and make sense of things—were thicker in those who practised meditation.
Changes in breathing rate—one of the effects of regular meditation is a significant drop in respiration rate—were also related to thickness in one of the brain regions in this study, according to the article.
The article also cited Transcendental Meditation, noting that earlier research has found that Transcendental Meditation lowers blood pressure and reduces cholesterol and hardening of the arteries. A study published in May in the American Journal of Cardiology found Transcendental Meditation reduces death rates by 23 per cent.
The article went on to summarize that in general, people who meditate report less stress, and scientists have linked long-term stress to shrinking of the part of the brain involved in memory and learning. In fact, meditation might promote brain plasticity'—the ability to be moulded or shaped.
The Boston scientists hypothesized that it might change the brain's actual physical structure, too.
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