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What are the benefits of mindful meditation and yoga?

Dawn Marcus
Neurology
Researchers from Harvard University published an important study in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging helped prove that meditation and mindful yoga resulted in real, measurable changes in the brain. They trained 16 adults in mindful meditation over eight weekly sessions and performed brain scans before and after treatment to look for changes in gray matter -- the part of the brain that contains nerve cells. Brain scans were also done at the beginning of the study and 8 weeks later in a control group that received no treatment. They found that gray matter increased in several brain regions after completing mindful meditation, including:
  • The hippocampus, a part of the brain that helps control memory and emotion
  • The posterior cingulate cortex, also important for memory and emotion, as well as for pain
  • The temporoparietal junction, important for interpreting body-related information and sensations and in developing an accurate body image
  • The cerebellum, important for coordination
There was no change in the hippocampus or temporoparietal gray matter in the control group, with a slight decrease in the posterior cingulate cortex in the no-treatment controls.

This study proved that mindful meditation does more than make you feel emotionally calm. It also helps enhance brain areas important for memory, emotion, and pain.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.