Age effects on gray matter volume and attentional performance in Zen meditation
Neurobiology of Aging
Format: Journal Article
Sources ID: 22283
Zotero Collections: Practitioner Context, Buddhist Contemplation by Applied Subject, Zen Buddhism, Buddhist Contemplation by Tradition, Contemplation by Applied Subject, Contemplation by Tradition, Neuroscience and Buddhist Contemplation, Science and Buddhist Contemplation, Neuroscience and Contemplation, Science and Contemplation, Buddhist Contemplation
Zen meditation, a Buddhist practice centered on attentional and postural self-regulation, has been speculated to bring about beneficial long-term effects for the individual, ranging from stress reduction to improvement of cognitive function. In this study, we examined how the regular practice of meditation may affect the normal age-related decline of cerebral gray matter volume and attentional performance observed in healthy individuals. Voxel-based morphometry for MRI anatomical brain images and a computerized sustained attention task were employed in 13 regular practitioners of Zen meditation and 13 matched controls. While control subjects displayed the expected negative correlation of both gray matter volume and attentional performance with age, meditators did not show a significant correlation of either measure with age. The effect of meditation on gray matter volume was most prominent in the putamen, a structure strongly implicated in attentional processing. These findings suggest that the regular practice of meditation may have neuroprotective effects and reduce the cognitive decline associated with normal aging.