Eight weeks to a better brain: Meditation study shows changes associated with awareness, stress

Source: Harvard Gazette; Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, January 2011

Researchers studying the effects of mindfulness meditation on the brain found that an eight-week meditation program created changes in regions of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. The study compared the magnetic resonance (MR) images of participants’ brain structure before and after the program.

The images suggested increased gray-matter density in the hippocampus (an area important for memory and learning, and associated with self-awareness and compassion) and decreased density in the amygdala (which plays an important role in anxiety and stress). Such findings could stimulate further research on meditation’s potential to protect against stress-related disorders.