World life expectancy has risen considerably since the year 1970. People are now living up to ten years longer today than they did forty five years ago. Another discovery has also been made – that the brains of people in their twenties have begun to wither. The weight and volume of their brains is decreasing, and this can lead to a loss in numerous functional abilities.
This means that increased longevity also comes with an increased set of risks for neurodegenerative diseases and mental illnesses. The good news is that a new study fromof the University of California Los Angeles suggests that practicing meditation has multiple significant benefits, including mitigating the risks of brain degeneration.
An empirical example of meditation benefits
In addition to earlier studies which showed that meditation decreases age-related white matter atrophy in the brain, this recent study is finding that meditation also helps to preserve grey matter, which is a type of brain tissue that houses neurons.
Researchers studied the correlation between grey matter and age in a group of 100 subjects, half of who possessed on average 20 years of meditation experience, while the other half did not. Even though both groups showed a loss of grey matter in relation to age, the meditation group showed a markedly lower decline in the amount of grey matter as compared with the non-meditation group.
What was even more surprising was the magnitude in difference between the groups.
Scientists get a visual on meditation’s effects
The subject’s brains were analysed via high-resolution MRIs. What they found was that large portions of grey matter in the meditators’ brains showed much better preservation and protection from age-related decline.
Although the research is young, and scientists caution the causality of meditation in relation to grey matter preservation due to other factors such as personality, lifestyle, and genetics, the results are promising enough to prompt further investigation into the benefits of meditation to the brain. They are hoping that studies such as this one will stimulate others into exploring the possibilities and potentials of meditation and its effects on the brain. This most recent study adds to the mounting scientific evidence that meditation provides positive brain-altering abilities to those who choose to practice.