Fun Fact: the human brain shrinks as we get older.
Well, I have to admit that fact isn’t all too fun, but definitely interesting.
Some brain regions shrink at a rate of up to 1% per year, whereas others remain relatively stable until the end of the life-span [source].
When it comes to the piece of research news I want to share with you however, the researchers did not base their findings by measuring brain size.
They focused particularly on how meditation affects the decrease in brain’s grey matter (which also decreases with age).
Meditation over many years is tied to smaller age-related decreases in brain volume, according to a new study.
People who reported meditating for an average of 20 years had higher brain volumes than the average person, researchers report in Frontiers in Psychology.
While it’s known that the volume of a brain’s gray matter decreases as a person ages, the study’s senior author told Reuters Health that the team of researchers expected to see more gray matter in certain regions of the brain among long-term meditators.
“But we see that this effect is really widespread throughout the brain,” said Dr. Florian Kurth, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles Brain Mapping Center.
Kurth and his colleagues write that they can’t say meditation caused its practitioners to lose less brain volume, however. Other habits of long-term meditators may also influence brain volume.
For the new study, the researchers compared the brain scans of 50 long-term meditators to those of 50 men and women from the general population. The participants ranged in age from 24 to 77 years. The meditators reported being involved in the practice for four to 46 years.
Overall, the volume of gray matter shown on the brain scans decreased as the age of the participants increased. But the meditators’ brains appeared better preserved than average people of the same age.
While we’ve covered in the past how meditation can boost brain performance, this is the first news we’ve seen which has shown that meditation can help keep your brain young.
Meditation is truly a remarkable practice, judging by the growing list of benefits newer research is providing us with.
Coupled with the increased popularity is has gotten, I am optimistic about the future of mankind!
What do you think – great news, or nothing new?
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