SCIENCE

Meditation Has Youthful Effect On Brain, According To Study

  • Mary Nichols , Design & Trend Contributor
  • Apr, 25, 2016, 08:34 AM
Tags : science
Meditation
(Photo : Getty Images/Cameron Spencer) Meditation could have more than just a relaxing effect on the mind - it could also affect how it ages.

Meditation could have more than just a relaxing effect on the mind - it could also affect how it ages.

A new study suggests that regular meditation sessions could make the brain younger, taking up to seven and a half years off the middle-aged brain, writes The Daily Mail.

According to researchers, the combination of intense concentration and relaxation that occurs during meditation could prompt the growth of new brain cells.

The study did not examine whether those who engaged in meditative practices were also more intelligent, brain shrinkage has been linked with brain diseases including Alzheimer's.

Researchers collected brain scans from 50 American men and women who regularly engaged in meditation sessions, as well as scanning the brains of 50 people who did not do any kind of meditation.

The researchers used a computer program to analyze the brain scan images - providing an age estimate for each brain based on its physical condition.

The results showed that the actual age and estimated age in non-meditators' brain were the same.
However, the results showed that meditators' brains were much younger than their physical age - with the average 50-year-old showing a brain age of 42 or 43. The benefits were particularly noticeable in older meditators. For every year over the age of 50, another year was taken off brain age, the journal NeuroImage reports.

"These findings seem to suggest that meditation is beneficial for brain preservation, with a slower rate of brain ageing throughout life," said Christian Gaser, researcher and neuroscientist at Jena University Hospital in Germany, according to the Daily Mail.

Dr Gaser, who worked alongside scientists from the United States and Australia, said it is not apparent how the brain is protected through meditation -- but that it is possible that the 'intense mental processes' or the feel-good chemicals produced by meditation could lead to the growth of new cells and connections, writes The Daily Mail.

However, he warned that people who meditate could be more likely to lead healthier lifestyles, writes The New Zealand Herald.

The brain scans also showed that females could have a natural advantage in keeping the mind youthful.

Researchers found that irrespective of meditation practices -- women's brains were three years younger than the men's, on average.

The study has been accepted for publication in the journal NeuroImage.

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