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Meditation Pumps Up the Brain, Improves Ability to Adapt

By Denise Reynolds RD

Meditation is a mind-body practice in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in which a person learns to focus attention and become mindful of thoughts, feelings, and sensations. It can also bring about a state of greater calmness and physical relaxation. But did you also know that it can actually thicken the brain and strengthen the connections between brain cells?

UCLA researchers have long studied the awesome powers that meditation has on the human brain. Two years ago, they found that specific regions within the brains of long-term meditators were larger and had more gray matter than those who did not practice the ancient tradition. MRI scans found that the hippocampus and other areas known for regulating emotions had larger volumes, and therefore allow for well-adjusted responses to “whatever life throws your way.”

Thickening of the brain may also help reinforce regions that regulate pain. And because our brains tend to shrink as we get older, meditation has also been found beneficial in helping to reduce age-related memory loss by reducing atrophy and improving the connection between neurons.

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