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Published on: February 8, 2015
by Samantha Goodwin for International Business Times:
A new study highlighted that meditation can delay the process of age-related loss of grey matter in the brain. The study was conducted by researchers from the University of California — Los Angeles.
Previous studies have established that life expectancy has risen since the 1970s, with people living 10 years longer. Unfortunately, now people’s brains have started to wither in their mid to late 20s. This has led to loss of a few functional abilities.
For the new study, researchers looked a group of 100 people. Half of them had meditated for years, while the other half hadn’t. Those in the first group had medicated for four to 46 years. The participants’ brains were scanned using high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging. The researchers looked at this data to find the link between grey matter and age. Researchers noted that while people from both groups lost grey matter from their brains as they aged, the loss process was slower for the first group. Meditation can delay ageing of the brain.
“We expected rather small and distinct effects located in some of the regions that had previously been associated with meditating,” the lead authors said in a press statement. “Instead, what we actually observed was a widespread effect of meditation that encompassed regions throughout the entire brain.”
“In that light, it seems essential that longer life expectancies do not come at the cost of a reduced quality of life,” said Dr Eileen Luders, first author and assistant professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “While much research has focused on identifying factors that increase the risk of mental illness and neurodegenerative decline, relatively less attention has been turned to approaches aimed at enhancing cerebral health.”
Researchers clarified that their findings were not enough to draw a direct connection between grey matter loss in the brain and meditation as there are many other influencing factors to take into consideration. These include personality traits, genetic brain differences and lifestyle choices. However, the authors stated that their current findings looked promising and may help to stimulate other studies to explore the benefits of meditation on the aging brain.
The researchers noted that this can lead to gathering of evidence that confirms meditation has the capability to allow effective translation from research to practice, not only in the framework of healthy aging but also pathological aging.
Findings of the study were published online in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
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