Positive Brain Changes Seen After Body-Mind Meditation

Improved connections in areas regulating emotions become clear after 11 hours of training, scans show

TUESDAY, Aug. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Positive brain changes take hold after just 11 hours of practicing a form of meditation, the results of a new study suggest.

The study included 45 University of Oregon students who were randomly selected to be in either a study group that did integrative body-mind training (IBMT) or a control group that did relaxation training. IBMT was adapted from traditional Chinese medicine in the 1990s.

A comparison of scans taken of the students' brains before and after the training showed that those in the IBMT group had increased brain connectivity. The changes were strongest in connections involving the anterior cingulate, an area that plays a role in the regulation of emotions and behavior, Yi-Yuan Tang of Dalian University of Technology in China, University of Oregon psychologist Michael I. Posner, and colleagues found.

The boost in brain connectivity began after six hours of IBMT and became more apparent after 11 hours of practice, according to the report published in the Aug. 16-21 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The meditation-induced changes may be due to a reorganization of white-matter tracts or due to an increase of myelin that surrounds the brain connections, the study authors suggested.

"The importance of our finding relates to the ability to make structural changes in a brain network related to self-regulation. The pathway that has the largest change due to IBMT is one that previously was shown to relate to individual differences in the person's ability to regulate conflict," Posner said in a university news release.

More information

The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has more about meditation.

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