Meditation and the Brain: Cerebral Atrophy

Meditation and the Brain: Cerebral Atrophy                         Ken Zhang
As medicine improves and the average longevity of a person increases, more is being focused not on just surviving, but on living well.  After the age of 25, the average person sees a decrease of cerebral gray matter every decade ( Cerebral Atrophy). This decrease in gray matter mean the likelihood of neurodegenerative diseases and mental illness increases, so the next frontier in health is understanding techniques, technologies, and methods to not only extend life, but well-being. Meditation has been one of the prominent methods in this frontier of health as it is simple, efficacious, and can be performed almost anywhere.

In this study  at UCLA, researchers looked at the level of gray matter differences between meditators and non-meditators as a predictor of meditation in preventing the onset of cerebral atrophy. 100 participants (50 non-mediators and 50 meditators) ranging from the age of 24 to 77 were tested, and detailed scans were performed to test the level of gray matter in the participant’s brains. 
Both groups (meditators and non-meditators) saw a decreased level of gray matter (picture) with age. However, the interesting thing is the rate of reduction in gray matter between the meditators and non-meditators. The average meditator showed a ten year younger brain as compared with the non-meditators after the age of 50. Although it is too early to say meditation is the cause, this study adds even more support to the hypothesis that meditation is conducive to mental health.