Research: VESTERGAARD-POULSEN and COLLEAGUES,

Listed in Issue 165

Abstract

VESTERGAARD-POULSEN and COLLEAGUES, Center for Functionally Integrative Neuroscience, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark. peterv@pet.auh.dk report evidence of structural differences in the lower brainstem of participants engaged in the long-term practice of meditation.

Background

Extensive practice involving sustained attention can lead to changes in brain structure.

Methodology

Using magnetic resonance imaging, the authors observed higher grey matter density in lower brain stem regions of experienced meditators compared with age-matched nonmeditators.

Results

Our findings show that long-term practitioners of meditation have structural differences in brainstem regions concerned with cardiorespiratory control.

Conclusion

This could account for some of the cardiorespiratory parasympathetic effects and traits, as well as the cognitive, emotional, and immunoreactive impact reported in several studies of different meditation practices.

References

Vestergaard-Poulsen P, van Beek M, Skewes J, Bjarkam CR, Stubberup M, Bertelsen J and Roepstorff A. Long-term meditation is associated with increased gray matter density in the brain stem. Neuroreport. 20(2):170-4. Jan 28 2009.

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