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Study: Long-term meditation can help slow down aging-related brain volume decline

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Long-term med­i­ta­tion tied to less brain loss (Reuters):

Peo­ple who report­ed med­i­tat­ing for an aver­age of 20 years had high­er brain vol­umes than the aver­age per­son, researchers report in Fron­tiers in Psy­chol­o­gy.

Kurth and his col­leagues write that they can’t say med­i­ta­tion caused its prac­ti­tion­ers to lose less brain vol­ume, how­ev­er. Oth­er habits of long-term med­i­ta­tors may also influ­ence brain vol­ume…

Near­ly 18 mil­lion adults and 1 mil­lion chil­dren prac­ticed med­i­ta­tion in the U.S. in 2012, accord­ing to a sur­vey on com­ple­men­tary med­i­cine from the Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health and the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion…

Over­all, the vol­ume of gray mat­ter shown on the brain scans decreased as the age of the par­tic­i­pants increased. But the med­i­ta­tors’ brains appeared bet­ter pre­served than aver­age peo­ple of the same age…

The new study “adds a lit­tle bit more evi­dence to the idea that the brain has plas­tic­i­ty, and by prac­tic­ing cer­tain men­tal activ­i­ties, such as med­i­ta­tion, we can see struc­tur­al changes in the brain as a result,” he said.

Study: For­ev­er Young(er): poten­tial age-defy­ing effects of long-term med­i­ta­tion on gray mat­ter atro­phy (Fron­tiers in Psy­chol­o­gy)

  • Abstract: While over­all life expectan­cy has been increas­ing, the human brain still begins dete­ri­o­rat­ing after the first two decades of life and con­tin­ues degrad­ing fur­ther with increas­ing age. Thus, tech­niques that dimin­ish the neg­a­tive impact of aging on the brain are desir­able. Exist­ing research, although scarce, sug­gests med­i­ta­tion to be an attrac­tive can­di­date in the quest for an acces­si­ble and inex­pen­sive, effi­ca­cious rem­e­dy. Here, we exam­ined the link between age and cere­bral gray mat­ter re-ana­lyz­ing a large sam­ple (n = 100) of long-term med­i­ta­tors and con­trol sub­jects aged between 24 and 77 years. When cor­re­lat­ing glob­al and local gray mat­ter with age, we detect­ed neg­a­tive cor­re­la­tions with­in both con­trols and med­i­ta­tors, sug­gest­ing a decline over time. How­ev­er, the slopes of the regres­sion lines were steep­er and the cor­re­la­tion coef­fi­cients were stronger in con­trols than in med­i­ta­tors. More­over, the age-affect­ed brain regions were much more extend­ed in con­trols than in med­i­ta­tors, with sig­nif­i­cant group-by-age inter­ac­tions in numer­ous clus­ters through­out the brain. Alto­geth­er, these find­ings seem to sug­gest less age-relat­ed gray mat­ter atro­phy in long-term med­i­ta­tion prac­ti­tion­ers.

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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