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Regular meditation can slow age-related loss of gray matter in brain


A new study suggests that practicing meditation on a regular basis can help give a boost to the brain and slows down the loss of brain's gray matter due to aging.

Researchers from University of California conducted a study and the implications of the study suggested that people who meditate have less age-related atrophy in the brain's white matter.

Now, a new study by UCLA researchers shows that meditation appeared to help preserve the brain's gray matter, the tissue that contains neurons.

The scientists looked specifically at the association between age and gray matter. They compared 50 people who had mediated for years and 50 who didn't. People in both groups showed a loss of gray matter as they aged. But the researchers found among those who meditated, the volume of gray matter did not decline as much as it did among those who didn't.

Dr. Florian Kurth, a co-author of the study and postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Brain Mapping Center, said that they expected rather small and distinct effects located in some of the regions that had previously been associated with meditating. Instead, they actually observed that there was a widespread effect of meditation that encompassed regions throughout the entire brain.

Each group in the study was made up of 28 men and 22 women ranging in age from 24 to 77. Those who meditated had been doing so for four to 46 years, with an average of 20 years.

Although the researchers found a negative correlation between gray matter and age in both groups of people-suggesting a loss of brain tissue with increasing age-they also found that large parts of the gray matter in the brains of those who meditated seemed to be better preserved, Kurth said.

The researchers cautioned that they cannot draw a direct, causal connection between meditation and preserving gray matter in the brain. Too many other factors may come into play, including lifestyle choices, personality traits, and genetic brain differences.

The article appears online in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

(With Agency inputs)

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