MR oms in on brain structure changes

March 1, 2006

Scientists have known that meditation alters brain waves. New evidence suggests that the practice actually changes the brain's physical structure.

Scientists have known that meditation alters brain waves. New evidence suggests that the practice actually changes the brain's physical structure.

Dr. Sara W. Lazar and colleagues from Massachusetts General Hospital used MR imaging to assess the cortical thickness of 20 subjects experienced in meditation (Neuroreport 2005;16(17):1893-1897). Study participants averaged 40 minutes of meditation daily.

Compared with controls, meditation participants had thicker brain regions associated with attention, interoception (the automatic monitoring of heart rate or breathing), and sensory processing, including the prefrontal cortex and right anterior insula.

Between-group differences in prefrontal cortical thickness were most pronounced in older participants, suggesting that meditation might offset age-related cortical thinning.