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Title: Mantra Meditation relaxes the brain
User: Swami Gaurangapada Date: 2006-06-05 18:23:22
13th Nov 2005 News: The ancient practice of meditation may change the brain in a way that helps boost attention, according to studies out Sunday at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.
Sara Lazar of Harvard Medical School studied Westerners who meditated for about 20 minutes every day. Lazar and colleagues used MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to look at brain parts involved in memory and attention. She found that meditators had increased thickness in those regions.
Those areas shrink as people get older, but this study found that older meditators were able to ward off some of that shrinkage. That finding is preliminary but suggests that a regular meditation practice might help people maintain their ability to remember and focus on details, Lazar says.
Another study suggests meditation boosts performance on tests that measure attention. Bruce O'Hara at the University of Kentucky and colleagues wanted to see how meditation might affect the ability to attend to a boring task during the mid-afternoon, a time when attention often flags.
He found that 10 people taught to meditate for 40 minutes did better on a test of attention compared with their own performance after reading for 40 minutes.
Too little sleep can impair performance on such tests, so the group repeated the experiment after subjects had lost a night's sleep. Meditation improved their performance even then, a finding that suggests that meditation might give the sleepy brain an edge. "Vigilance is much more difficult when you are sleepy," O'Hara says.
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