Study: Mindfulness Meditation Can Change Brain Structure

Meditation by oddsock

Yet another study on the effects of meditation on the brain, this one focused on mindfulness meditation:

Participating in an 8-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. In a study that will appear in the January 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, a team led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers report the results of their study, the first to document meditation-produced changes over time in the brain’s grey matter.

“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” says Sara Lazar, PhD, of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program, the study’s senior author. “This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”

PhysOrg: Mindfulness meditation training changes brain structure in 8 weeks

(via Boing Boing)

However, this study had a VERY small sample size: just 16 participants.

Previous coverage of meditation.

Photo by Odd Stock


  1. Love your blog, peruse it regularly. I looked at the new entries today, but it took me a second visit to pick this up:
    “Study: Mindfulness >>Mediation<< Can Change Brain Structure"

    On the first reading I had the auto-correct going. Minor nitpick, keep up the great work!

  2. Thanks Andy, I fixed it!

  3. Interesting study (albeit small) that may encourage more people like myself to do meditation.
    Here is my question; It is the act of learning meditation, (focusing, changing thought patterns)that results in brain changes (increase density of hippocampus etc)which ultimately change behaviour. Changes in the brain are the result not the stem of cognition and behavior.

  4. Basically, over time, our brains optimize for whatever we spend our time doing. If you spend any significant time practicing basic skills such concentration, visualization, suppressing disctraction, etc., your brain will respond. Since such activities are part of many mental processes, regular practice will improve you abilites across the board. Of course, it’s important to understand that this works both ways — you can also optimize your brain for boredom, stupidity, addiction, and so on. Remember, practice makes you different. Practice being the way you want to be.

  5. Yes…very important to suppress disctraction. That’s what I get for commenting on Technoccult during the workday.

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