Push-ups, crunches and gyms are fine for building bigger muscles and stronger bones. But can you meditate your way to a bigger brain?
The answer is yes, as a new study has established that certain regions in the brains of those meditating long-term were larger than in a similar group.
A group of researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), used high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of people who meditate.
Specifically, such people showed significantly larger volumes of the hippocampus and areas within the orbito-frontal cortex, the thalamus and the inferior temporal gyrus-regions known for regulating emotions.
"We know that people who consistently meditate have a singular ability to cultivate positive emotions, retain emotional stability and engage in mindful behaviour," said Eileen Luders, study co-author and postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Lab of Neuro Imaging.
Luders and colleagues examined 44 people, 22 control subjects and 22 who had practised Zazen, Samatha and Vipassana meditation, among others. They had devoted an average of 24 years to the practice.
More than half of all the people who meditate said that deep concentration was an essential part of their practice, and most meditated between 10 and 90 minutes daily, said an UCLA release.
The researchers used a high-resolution, three-dimensional form of MRI and two different approaches to measure differences in brain structure.
These findings were published in NeuroImage.