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The practice of meditation can change genes, neuroscientist says
by Global Good News staff writer
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2 March 2013
'In the last few years, research articles have shown that the practice of meditation actually changes many genes,' said Alarik Arenander, PhD, a UCLA-trained neuroscientist with degrees in molecular biology, developmental biology, and neuroscience.
Dr Arenander has conducted pioneering research at UCLA, Penn State University, University of Wisconsin, and Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, USA.
He is especially interested in how experiences and lifestyle choices change the way our brains function. And now, findings are showing that experiences can change the way our genes function as well, Dr Arenander said.
For years, Dr Arenander and other scientists who study the effects of Transcendental Meditation have known that the practice causes physiological, neurological, and genetic changes.
'Thousands upon thousands of genes in the physiology work differently in meditators than in non-meditators,' Dr Arenander explained. 'The ones that are different would [lead to] a more orderly and long-lived brain. These changes aren't just random; they are all in the direction of greater orderliness.'
Now that knowledge, culled from experience and years of scientific research, is finally being explained by the latest findings in epigenetics, the study of gene expression that does not involve changes to (it is above, or on top of) the underlying sequence of the genetic code (DNA).
Those findings have shown that histones, the proteins around which DNA is wound in order to take up less space, function differently depending on lifestyle.
'That opening and closing of the histone structure and the winding and unwinding of DNA is sensitive to your life experience. What you do in your life, what you experience during your day, alters the mechanics of how those histones function,' Dr Arenander said.
'We now know that every experience we have has a cascade of biochemical impacts' that reaches our cells' nucleus, '—that reaches our genes and histones and alters how they're packaged.'
He added that research shows that meditation makes the histones function in a more orderly and coherent manner.
See related articles:
∙ More complex understanding of histones and DNA emerges
∙ Lifestyle may influence gene expression and DNA: Neuroscientist reports on new discoveries
Copyright © 2013 Global Good News Service
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