Recent Neuroimaging study on Mindfulness Meditation benefits
“It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life,” ~ Britta Hölzel, first author of the paper
A recent study, due out in this months January 30th issue of Psychiatry Research Neuroimaging conducted on the benefits of 8-week mindfulness meditation course finds increases in emotional regulation, clear thinking and brain plasticity.
18 participants were randomized to either the control/no-treatment group or to the mindfulness meditation course treatment group. Researchers took MRI scans of participants 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after the 8-week course. Participants who were randomized to the meditation course showed increases in gray matter/nerve cells in the hippocampus. Participants in the no-treatment control group showed none, zip, zero increase in gray matter.
Why does an increase in hippocampus gray matter matter? The hippocampus is associated with emotional regulation. Being able to regulate emotions is associated with internal well being and a higher quality of life. You just feel better.
Apoptesis or cell death in the hippocampus is highly associated with psychological diagnoses like post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Also note that SSRI's (Serotonin-reuptake inhibitors, anti-depressants like Prozac) have been shown to increase gray matter in the hippocampus, and as the pharmaceutical representatives can tell you, these pills do work.
Mindfulness meditation practice is another alternative, that also, apparently works.