Participation in the 8 week MBSR programme affects the brain in areas which are responsible for memory, sense of self, empathy and stress, according to a new study due to be published next week in the Journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging. The research was led by Sarah Lazar at the Massachusetts General Hospital and looked at MRI scans of participants before and after they took part in the MBSR Programme and compared them with a control group of non-meditators. They found, for example, that participant-reported reductions in stress were correlated with decreased density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. This change was not found in the control group, meaning that it was not just due to passage of time.
As Britta Hölzel, PhD, first author of the paper states: It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life. What is interesting about this study is that it shows how the reported effects of the MBSR Course are now beginning to be tracked in the underlying structures of the brain.
You can check out a report of the study here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110121144007.htm