Sunday, January 23, 2011

Meditation and health: Then again, there is always the package of 28 injections over 8 weeks ...

From Massachusetts General Hospital, we learn
Mindfulness meditation training changes brain structure in 8 weeks

Meditation group participants reported spending an average of 27 minutes each day practicing mindfulness exercises, and their responses to a mindfulness questionnaire indicated significant improvements compared with pre-participation responses. The analysis of MR images, which focused on areas where meditation-associated differences were seen in earlier studies, found increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection. Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased grey-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. Although no change was seen in a self-awareness-associated structure called the insula, which had been identified in earlier studies, the authors suggest that longer-term meditation practice might be needed to produce changes in that area. None of these changes were seen in the control group, indicating that they had not resulted merely from the passage of time. (Eurekalert, January 21, 2011)

Changes were associated with awareness, empathy, and stress.

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose