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Mindfulness Meditation Changes Brain Structure in 8 Weeks

Participation in an 8-week mindfulness meditation program led to measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. Mindfulness meditation focuses on nonjudgmental awareness of sensations, feelings and state of mind.

For the study, MR images were taken of the brain structure of 16 participants two weeks before and after they took part in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program. In addition to weekly group practice of mindfulness meditation, participants received audio recordings for guided meditation practice and were asked to keep track of how much time they practiced each day. MR brain images were also taken of a control group of non-meditators.

According to Eurekalert:

"The analysis of MR images, which focused on areas where meditation-associated differences were seen in earlier studies, found increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection. Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased grey-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress."

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