Opponents and supporters of the Dalai Lama’s recent lecture to the Society for Neuroscience on “The Neuroscience of Meditation” will want to read Dr. Sara Lazar’s study on meditation and cortical thickness in the latest issue of Neuroreport.
Lazar, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, presented her team’s findings to the SFN in a slide presentation just two days after His Holiness’ controversial lecture. Their hypothesis was “that meditation practice might also be associated with changes in the brain’s physical structure.” In an interview with Newsday, Lazar explained that “[p]eople who meditate always talk about lasting effects that go beyond the meditation session. If so, the implication is that different brain wiring supports this change.”
With the assistance of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Lazar’s teams examined the brains of 20 participants who had “extensive Insight meditation experience.” Lazar’s report states that “prefrontal cortical thickness were most pronounced in older participants, suggesting that meditation might offset age-related cortical thinning.” And that “the thickness of two regions correlated with meditation experience. These data provide the first structural evidence for experience-dependent cortical plasticity associated with meditation practice.”
According to Lazar, this thickening “gives credibility to the claims of meditators.” She explains that “[i]t is not just sitting there quietly, but meditating, that is having a profound effect on key brain structures.” The thinning of the prefrontal cortex has traditionally been accepted as an inherent part of the aging process. Obviously the implication of this report is that attention based meditations have a marked affect on the deterioration of brain tissue.
Blogwise: Check out this post on mindhacks.com