Scientists have long known that meditation has the ability to permanently alter neural patterns, but researchers have recently discovered that the practice also causes parts of the brain to physically thicken. LiveScience.com has a summary of the study that was led by Sara Lazar, an assistant in psychology at Massachusetts General Hospital.
The 20 participants in the study were trained in Vipassana, also known as Buddhist Insight meditation. Brain imaging of the subjects revealed a thickening of cortical regions related to sensory, auditory and visual perception. It was also determined that daily meditation may actually slow the normal, aging-related thinning of the frontal cortex. Although relatively few people were studied, the researchers believe their results to be significant. Additionally, they concluded that yoga and other forms of meditation likely produce similar effects.
The study appears in the November issue of the journal NeuroReport.