Research, Technology

What actually happens to your brain after meditation?

Meditation is usually called a special mentala human condition that occurs as a result of certain mental exercises. Scientists have long been interested in meditation and the effects it has on the brain. It is generally believed that meditation helps to cope with depression and stress. What's more, some research suggests that it causes structural changes in the brain. Several months of regular meditation allegedly lead to an increase in gray matter. This is especially true of several zones responsible for memory and emotions. Gray matter is the dendrites that receive information from neurons. The more they grow, the more plastic the neural circuits become. In other words, the brain begins to work better with information and remember it better. But is it really so?

According to some reports, meditation not only relieves stress, but also increases the volume of gray matter in the brain.

Does the MBSR program improve the brain

Previous studies have used one or the othermeditation system, while scientists compared the state of the brain before the start of classes and after some time. However, other scientists questioned the results of such studies, and there were several reasons for this. The fact is that the recorded changes in the structure of the brain could have arisen for a different reason, not at all related to mediation.

It is possible that an increase in gray matterwas caused by the fact that the brain began to do something new for itself. In other words, the study lacked a control group that would provide more objective information. In addition, a small number of people took part in such studies, which also casts doubt on the results.

According to some scientists, meditation increases the plasticity of neural connections.

All these shortcomings decided to correct the scientistsUniversity of Wisconsin in their new study. They recruited more than seventy volunteers for the experiment. All people were divided into three groups. The first group was engaged in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR program). It involves mindfulness meditation. It is this kind of meditation that is said to contribute most to the increase in gray matter in the brain.

The second group was engaged in a healthy diet,music therapy and exercise. The third group of volunteers did nothing at all. But they were told that they would soon begin psychic exercises.

As scientists note in an article published inScience Advances, two months later there were no major changes in the brain of any of the volunteers. That is, music therapy and meditation affected the gray matter no more than ordinary everyday life.

People who practiced meditation did not change the structure of the brain

Why Meditation Doesn't Change the Structure of the Brain

Is meditation really uselessoccupation? In fact this is not true. Meditation is practiced to reduce stress and depression. It is quite possible that she really copes with these tasks effectively. However, reducing depression does not require an increase in the volume of gray matter in areas responsible for memory or emotions. True, we should not forget that, according to some scientists, meditation, on the contrary, can harm a person’s mental health.

Moreover, this study does not providereason to say that meditation does not change the structure of the brain at all. So far, it can only be argued that the volume of gray matter does not increase after two months of training. It is possible that the effect will be noticeable, for example, only after two years of regular meditation. Obviously, a longer study is needed to draw definitive conclusions. Or perhaps people should meditate more diligently.

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Science is well aware that the brain is capable ofadapt to the tasks that he most often has to solve. However, in this study, the volunteers meditated for a total of 24-30 hours. Moreover, they spent this time on meditation for two months. Most likely, this is not enough for structural changes to occur in the brain.

However, with their experiment, scientists managed tobust a common myth. After all, we are interested in the truth, not a vain sensation. In addition, there are already enough sensations in science. For example, not so long ago, scientists managed to find out that the brain processes information in a microwave way. You can read about what it is and how it happens here.