Las Vegas Yoga Examiner: People who meditate have bigger brains than those who don’t, say researchers at UCLA.
Using high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of meditators and non-meditators, they found that those who meditated showed significantly larger volumes of the hippocampus and areas within the orbito-frontal cortex, the thalamus and the inferior temporal gyrus—all regions known for regulating emotions.
“We know that people who consistently meditate have a singular ability to cultivate positive emotions, retain emotional stability and engage in mindful behavior,” said Eileen Luders, lead author and a postdoctoral research fellow at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging. “The observed differences in brain anatomy might give us a clue why meditators have these exceptional abilities.”
Study participants included 22 control subjects and 22 people who had practiced meditation from five to 46 years. Most meditated between 10 and 90 minutes every day.
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Because the areas that increased in volume are closely linked to emotion, Luders said, “these might be the neuronal underpinnings that give meditators the outstanding ability to regulate their emotions and allow for well-adjusted responses to whatever life throws their way.
It should be pointed out, however, that since the study did not track those who meditated from their pre-meditation days, that it’s possible they already had more gray matter and volume in specific areas and that may have been what attracted them to meditation in the first place. There have been studies though that have shown that environmental enrichment has been show to change brain structure.