Meditation and Brain Stem

Long-term meditation is associated with increased gray matter density in the brain stem

Vestergaard-Poulsen, Petera; van Beek, Martijnc; Skewes, Joshuaa c; Bjarkam, Carsten R.b; Stubberup, Michaeld; Bertelsen, Jesd; Roepstorff, Andreasa c

Abstract: Using magnetic resonance imaging, we observed higher gray matter density in lower brain stem regions of experienced meditators compared with age-matched nonmeditators. Our findings show that long-term practitioners of meditation have structural differences in brainstem regions concerned with cardiorespiratory control. This could account for some of the cardiorespiratory parasympathetic effects and traits, as well as the cognitive, emotional, and immunoreactive impact reported in several studies of different meditation practices.

Neuroreport:                                                                                                                                         28 January 2009, Volume 20 Issue 2, pp 170-174

doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e328320012a                                                                             Behaviour

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