Meditation appears to increase the size of the brain according to results from a small study. Researchers using MRI scans found that the hippocampus of those who meditate is larger than in those who do not in their control group.
It's been known for some time that meditation has positive benefits in dealing with stress and the improving the immune system. New research is showing that there could be links between meditation and brain structure.
Researchers from the University of California studied the brains of 44 people, half of whom had practiced meditation from periods ranging from five and 46 years. The group that meditated practiced different forms including Zazen, Samatha and Vipassana. Most of the group said that deep concentration was part of their practice and that they spent between 10 and 90 minutes a day in meditation.
Using MRI scans the scientists show that there was "significantly larger cerebral measurements in mediators".
The Telegraph reports:
Lead researcher Eileen Luders said, "these might be the neuronal underpinnings that give meditators' the outstanding ability to regulate their emotions and allow for well-adjusted responses to whatever life throws their way".
Additional studies are required to understand if the increased size is because increased number of neurons, the larger size of the neurons or a particular "wiring" pattern mediators may develop.
Because of the very small study it can not be claimed that meditation increases the brain. It can be said that it is a possibility that meditate can stimulate brain growth.