New Study Suggests Meditation Can Protect Your Brain from Effects of Aging

New Study Suggests Meditation Can Protect Your Brain from Effects of Aging  

World-wide life expectancy has quickly risen over the past 5 decades. But after the age of around 25, the years gained often come with increasing risk for mental illness and decline.

Fortunately, studies suggest that long-term meditation buffers against mental degeneration. Researchers from UCLA had found that people who meditate have less atrophy in their brain's white matter as they age. Now, their 2015 study suggests that meditation can preserve the mind's gray matter as well.

Researchers compared 50 experienced meditators to 50 others. People in both groups showed a loss of gray matter as they aged. Yet they found the volume of gray matter declined far less among those that practiced mediation. The size of the differences shocked them.

They expected small effects located in specific regions that usually light up during meditation. But the effects were reported to be profound and encompassed the entire brain.

SOURCE:

Eileen Luders, Nicolas Cherbuin, Florian Kurth. Forever Young(er): potential age-defying effects of long-term meditation on gray matter atrophy.   Frontiers in Psychology, Published January 21 2015. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.0155

ABSTRACT:

While overall life expectancy has been increasing, the human brain still begins deteriorating after the first two decades of life and continues degrading further with increasing age. Thus, techniques that diminish the negative impact of aging on the brain are desirable. Existing research, although scarce, suggests meditation to be an attractive candidate in the quest for an accessible and inexpensive, efficacious remedy. Here, we examined the link between age and cerebral gray matter re-analyzing a large sample (n = 100) of long-term meditators and control subjects aged between 24 and 77 years. When correlating global and local gray matter with age, we detected negative correlations within both controls and meditators, suggesting a decline over time. However, the slopes of the regression lines were steeper and the correlation coefficients were stronger in controls than in meditators. Moreover, the age-affected brain regions were much more extended in controls than in meditators, with significant group-by-age interactions in numerous clusters throughout the brain. Altogether, these findings seem to suggest less age-related gray matter atrophy in long-term meditation practitioners.