For many patients, meditation is becoming a core aspect of doctors’ advice for various conditions. In most cases, it is recommended for combating stress, insomnia and emotional disturbances like anxiety and depression. A new U.S. study has found that meditation actually, physically, strengthens your brain. And that is something to investigate further.
The piece of health news shows that years of meditation thicken the brain (in a good way). And the ancient practice strengthens the connections between brain cells. Now there are more amazing findings.
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Researchers found that long-term meditators have more “gyrification.” This means that your cortex is folded, allowing the brain to process information faster. They also found a direct link between the amount of gyrification and the number of years someone has meditated, suggesting that brain has an ability to adapt to environmental changes.
The cerebral cortex is the outermost layer of tissue in the brain. It plays a key role in memory, attention, thought and consciousness. Gyrification occurs as the brain undergoes changes and this may promote and enhance its ability to process information. Presumably, the more gyrification, the better the brain is at thinking, making decisions, forming memories, and so forth.
Researchers took MRI scans of 50 meditators, and compared them to 50 controls. Those who meditated had practiced for an average of 20 years using a variety of meditation types. They found significant group differences, with high levels of gyrification in those who practiced meditation. They found it across a wide swath of the brain.
Meditators are known to be masters in introspection and awareness as well as emotional control and self-regulation. So here, the results make sense that the longer someone has meditated, the higher the degree of gyrification.
It of course is never too late to start meditation. The best way to learn is in a group setting, or quietly at home with the help of an instructional DVD. See if it works for you!