Posting on the New York Times health blog, Well, Sindya N. Bhanoo explores How Meditation May Change the Brain. Citing research from the January 30, 2011 issue of “Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging” (helmed by lead author Britta Hölzel, a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School), Bhanoo reports that:
“…those who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had measurable changes in gray matter density in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress.”
A January 21 article in the Harvard Gazette, by Sue McGreevey, reviews the same research. A few excerpts from McGreevey’s article, Eight Weeks to a Better Brain:
“It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life,” says Britta Hölzel.
Amishi Jha, a University of Miami neuroscientist who investigates mindfulness-training’s effects on individuals in high-stress situations, says, “These results shed light on the mechanisms of action of mindfulness-based training. They demonstrate that the first-person experience of stress can not only be reduced with an eight-week mindfulness training program but that this experiential change corresponds with structural changes in the amygdala, a finding that opens doors to many possibilities for further research on MBSR’s potential to protect against stress-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.” Jha was not one of the study investigators.
To review the original research article please see:
Britta K. Hölzel, James Carmody, Mark Vangel, Christina Congleton, Sita M. Yerramsetti, Tim Gard, Sara W. Lazar. Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 2011; 191 (1): 36 DOI: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2010.08.006