Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Meditation: Increases Brain Size -- (Shrinks Ego?)


People who meditate grow bigger brains than those who don't. Researchers at Harvard, Yale, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found the first evidence that meditation can alter the physical structure of our brains. Brain scans they conducted reveal that experienced meditators boasted increased thickness in parts of the brain that deal with attention and processing sensory input.

In one area of gray matter, the thickening turns out to be more pronounced in older than in younger people. That's intriguing because those sections of the human cortex, or thinking cap, normally get thinner as we age.

"Our data suggest that meditation practice can promote cortical plasticity in adults in areas important for cognitive and emotional processing and well-being," says Sara Lazar, leader of the study and a psychologist at Harvard Medical School. "These findings are consistent with other studies that demonstrated increased thickness of music areas in the brains of musicians, and visual and motor areas in the brains of jugglers. In other words, the structure of an adult brain can change in response to repeated practice."

The researchers compared brain scans of 20 experienced meditators with those of 15 nonmeditators. Four of the former taught meditation or yoga, but they were not monks living in seclusion. The rest worked in careers such as law, health care, and journalism. All the participants were white. During scanning, the meditators meditated; the others just relaxed and thought about whatever they wanted.
Hmm. Increases brain size -- perhaps by shrinking ego? Quick, someone throw a lifesaving zafu to Rummy, Big Dick, Turdblossom, Bubble Boy, and all the rest of them!

(Hat tip to DC Tom. More here.)>


Libby said...

That's so interesting. Might be too late for the preznit thought. I would suppose you would have to start with at least some grey matter in order to increase it, no?

No Blood for Hubris said...

Indeed. Bubble Boy appears to be long past saving.

JOEL said...


No Blood for Hubris said...

Yes, exactly!

(BTW, you wouldn't be that very special Joel, by any chance, would you?)