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Meditation Improves Brain-Signalling Connections and Wiring in a Month

Update Date: Jun 13, 2012 09:33 PM EDT

Meditation is recommended for anyone undergoing everyday stress and pressure. While many a people who practice meditation claim relief and lowered level of stress, there has been very few studies which have attempted on testing the physical impact of meditation on the brain.

A new study claims that only a month of meditation itself can alter the brain wiring and can even open avenues for new treatments for mental disorders.

For the study, researchers studied the effects of Integrative Body-Mind Training (IBMT) on two different groups of university students.

The results revealed that only after a month of training (11 hours) there were physical changes in the brains of the volunteers. The white matter in the brain had apparently become denser and showed better brain-signaling connections. Also, the protective fatty insulation surrounding nerve fibers, myelin, expanded.

Poor nerve activity in this part of the brain is linked to mental problems like Attention Deficit disorder, Dementia, Depression, and Schizophrenia.

According to the results of a previous study based on MRI scans, after two weeks of meditation the density of axons or the nerve fibers increased but myelin formation remained unchanged.

However, after a month's time, increase in both axon and myelin was noted.

Also, meditation improved the mood of the students along with reducing depression, anger level, stress and fatigue in them.

"This study gives us a much more detailed picture of what it is that is actually changing," Study leader Professor Michael Posner, from the University of Oregon, who carried out the original US research was quoted as saying by Mail Online.

"We did confirm the exact locations of the white-matter changes that we had found previously. And now we show that both myelination and axon density are improving. The order of changes we found may be similar to changes found during brain development in early childhood, allowing a new way to reveal how such changes might influence emotional and cognitive development," he added.

Dr Eva Cyhlarova, head of research at the Mental Health Foundation, said that the study reveals how a technique as simple as meditation can affect the brain and its functions.

"Furthermore, these changes appear to lead to improvements in mood, which is consistent with self-regulation being a core feature of many mental health problems," she said.

She added that since the technique is so cheap, more and more people might be able to access support "through affordable interventions,"according to the report.

The findings were originally reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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