Meditation can Increase Size of the Brain

Updated at: Nov 14, 2014
Meditation can Increase Size of the Brain

Findings of a study showed how meditation can benefit the brain by increasing the brain size and making the grey matter denser.

Vasudha Bhat
LatestWritten by: Vasudha BhatPublished at: Nov 14, 2014

Benefits of MeditationMeditation can work wonders for the brain and this was further established by the scientists who found that meditation can make the brain bigger.

When you practice meditation techniques like concentrating on the breath helps the grey matter build denser in parts of the brain that are lined with learning and memory, compassion and controlling emotions.

Only in 8 weeks of meditation the structural changes can be seen in the brain. As discovered by the American scientist the brain gets large enough to be picked up by MRI scanners.  

Dr Sara Lazar, a Harvard neuroscientist said ‘if you use a particular part of your brain, it’s going to grow because you are using it. It really is mental exercise. Basically, the idea is “use it or lose it”. It’s like building a muscle.’

The study conducted by Lazar and her colleagues had 16 volunteers who had their brains scanned before and after an eight-week `mindfulness’ course.

Mindfulness is a form of mediation which aims at focusing thoughts on body’s physical sensations and detaching yourself from the `chatter of the mind’.

The participants of the study had weekly group sessions in which they were made to do breathing exercises, gentle yoga and a `body scan’. They were made to focus their thoughts on one part of the body at a time. These volunteers were also asked to practice for almost half an hour every day.

MRI scans of these volunteers were taken before and after the sessions and compared with those of volunteers who did not take part in the meditation course.

People who took the eight-week course had thicker grey matter in several parts of the brain. However, those who did not take the meditation course had no such structural changes in the brain.

Image courtesy: Getty Images

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