How does meditation change the brain

How meditation changes the brain

“Get into a comfortable position. And then completely relaxed: inhale and exhale, inhale and exhale. Observe what breathing is doing to your body. And then again quite naturally: inhale and exhale, inhale and exhale. ”Under the guidance of a professional yoga teacher, twelve men and 17 women without any relevant experience practiced meditation for seven weeks. “Normally you sit down during these breathing exercises, but our test subjects lie down,” says Elke Ruth Gizewski, neuroradiologist at the Medical University of Innsbruck.

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An article in Wissen Aktuell on March 16 is also dedicated to this topic. at 13.55

This position adaptation had a specific reason: the test subjects were supposed to learn to put themselves into a meditative state in a magnetic resonance tomography tube, i.e. during an MRI examination. Gizewski and her colleague Nicolas Singewald wanted to investigate how meditation affects brain metabolism as part of a study. For this purpose, the brains of the test subjects were analyzed using MRI before and after the study. “And we could see that after a short time changes had occurred in several regions. There has been increased activity in the basal ganglia, for example. "

Networked again

The basal ganglia play a major role in a number of processes - such as movement sequences. But also the frontal lobe, which controls motor and cognitive processes, and the temporal lobe, which in turn is responsible for stimulus processing, were influenced by the meditation exercises. The test subjects' thinking apparatus has become networked anew.

“This enables the brain to react differently to stimuli.” This can be particularly helpful in times of crisis. Mental illness is currently on the rise. Meditation can have positive effects, especially for people with anxiety disorders, says Gizewski. The test subjects in their study would not have had any related illness, but their state of mind was examined carefully. "And there we were actually able to see in this group of test persons that the regular meditation practice had reduced their anxiety."

Ten to 15 minutes a day

Ten to 15 minutes of daily meditation are enough, according to the neuroradiologist. She advises getting tips from a professional yoga teacher or meditation trainer beforehand. This also works via online courses.

Gizewski and Singewald - who presented their study online today as part of the “Week of the Brain” at the Medical University of Innsbruck - are planning further research in this area. "We want to examine the test subjects again in a year to see how meditation can affect our brain in the long term," says Elke Ruth Gizewski.

Daphne Hruby, Ö1 Science

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