Om My! Meditation Changes Brain Structure

Brain scans indicate permanent, positive development
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2010 3:42 AM CDT
Updated Oct 27, 2010 5:55 AM CDT
Om My! Meditation Changes Brain Structure
Budda in San Fancicso   (©moonjazz)

This might already be obvious to enlightened souls, but researchers are discovering that meditation may permanently change the physical structure of the brain. Neural circuits linked to focus, happiness and empathy may be strengthened through long-term meditation, effectively rewiring the brain and "lighting up" certain sections with a life-long capability for stronger activity in those regions, scans have indicated. “If you engage in certain kinds of exercise on a regular basis you can strengthen certain muscle groups in predictable ways,” explains researcher Richard Davidson. “Strengthening neural systems is not fundamentally different."

Changes include ramped-up activation of a section of the brain thought to be responsible for generating positive emotions, called the left-sided anterior region. Monks who have meditated some 10,000 hours demonstrated significantly more activity in their limbic systems—the brain's emotional network—than even novice meditators, indicating that their mind's empathy "muscle" was vastly stronger than the average Individual's. The Dalai Lama has sent monks to various US universities for meditation study. "This is not a project about religion,” Davidson tells CNN. “Meditation is mental activity that could be understood in secular terms.” (Turns out yoga produces some amazing results, too. Click here for that.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.