Meditators Lose Fewer Brain Cells

Meditators lose less ‘grey matter’

Meditation may help us hold on to more ‘grey matter’ in the brain, and keep us mentally sharp as we get older, a new study has found.

People who have meditated for years seem to lose less of the brain’s grey matter—the tissue that contains neurons—than those who didn’t, say researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

When they looked at the brains of 50 long-term meditators, and compared them to 50 non-meditators, they found significant differences in the amount of grey matter between the two.  “We expected rather small and distinct effects located in some of the regions (of the brain) that had previously been associated with meditating.  Instead, what we actually observed was a widespread effect of meditation that encompassed regions throughout the entire brain,” said lead researcher Dr Florian Kurth.

Each group was made up of 28 men and 22 women aged from 24 to 77, and those who meditated had been doing so for between four and 46 years.  MRI scans were used to monitor the brains of the participants, and although all the older people in the trial displayed some loss of grey matter, it was far less in those who meditated.

(Source: Frontiers in Psychology, 2015; 5: doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01551)

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