A study found that daily meditation over a consistent period of time changes gray matter density in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. Researchers examined MRI scans of participants over a period of 8 weeks. Daily meditation sessions of 30-minutes’ duration produced measurable changes in subjects with no previous meditation history. Increased gray matter was discovered in the hippocampus, the learning and memory region of the brain. The anxiety and stress region of the brain, the amygdala, produced less gray matter. In a non-meditating control group, these positive changes did not take place.
Study findings from lead researcher, Britta Hlzel, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School and her colleagues appear in the January 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Dr. Hlzel said. “The field is very, very young, and we don’t really know enough about it yet…I would say these are still quite preliminary findings. We see that there is something there, but we have to replicate these findings and find out what they really mean.”
For further reading, see www.psychiatrictimes.com/integrative-psychiatry.