Regular meditation practice may protect brain tissue and lessen the cognitive decline that is normally associated with aging, according to a small study published in the October issue of Neurobiology of Aging (2007; 28 , 1623–27). Researchers from Emory University, in Atlanta, recruited 13 meditation practitioners, each with over 3 years’ experience, to participate in the study along with 13 control subjects. All participants were tested on their attentional ability and underwent MRI scans of brain tissue.
Test results showed that control subjects had a normal decline in performance on sustained attention tests and an age-associated loss of brain tissue volume. In contrast, the meditation subjects did not show similar declines. MRI scans revealed that meditators retained more gray matter, particularly in an area of the brain associated with attentional processing.
study adds to the growing body of literature that supports the benefits of
meditation. Other studies have reported that it has positive effects on stress
reduction, autonomic regulation and immune activity.