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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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