It has been suggested elsewhere that keeping the brain active (through constantly learning, thinking, creative output, etc.) is correlated with a reduction in age-related dementia. (I’ve once written about UCLA research which clearly demonstrated that neurons and dendrites can be stimulated to grow and make new connections even in old age, which had previously been denied).
We have good evidence that the “use it or lose it” principle applies to every system in the body, including the brain.
Isn’t meditation the exact opposite of “using” the brain? Am I wrong in understanding that meditation is based on suppressing all thoughts and essentially shutting down the thinking process?
Is it possible that like muscles, the brain needs a balance of both stimulation and relaxation to remain healthy?
On Feb 18, 2015, at 7:30 AM, John M. Johnny Adams, GRG Exec Director wrote:
Dear GRG Member,
So we can live long, more fulfilling and productive lives, and create aging solutions here’s the first of two articles on meditation:
Long-term Meditation May Slow Brain Aging
– New research suggests meditation may slow age-related brain atrophy
– Long term UCLA study showed long-term meditators experienced less gray matter loss compared with matched control persons who did not meditate.
Note: correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causality
– Nine clusters throughout the brains of meditators showed effect
– Study compared 50 meditators (28 men, 22 women) age range 24-77 years (mean age, early 50s) practiced meditation for from 4 to 46 years (mean, almost 20 years) compared with 50 matched control participants (28 men, 22 women) who did not meditate.
– All participants underwent MRI of the brain at the same site using the same scanner and following the same scanning protocol.
– authors note age-related decline of local gray matter was less prominent in meditators
– Potential Mechanisms
relieve stress, which is “almost toxic” to neurons
intense mental activity may stimulate dendritic branching and/or synaptogenesis
gray matter gain may “mask” the gray matter loss
meditators start off with a healthier lifestyle ―
eating healthy foods, avoiding smoking, exercising regularly ―
and have the type of personality that helps protect the brain.
– “In order to keep meditating for close to twenty years, individuals need to possess a minimum level of discipline and commitment, a well-organized life that allows them the spare time, an awareness of the possibility to control their own life, perhaps even a calm nature to begin with,” the authors note.
Article concludes with notes of caution on interpretation of study.
Original article discussed above: Forever Young(er): potential age-defying effects of long-term meditation on gray matter atrophy
John M. “Johnny” Adams
Executive Director Gerontology Research Group
(949) 922-9786 cell
CEO / Exec. Director
Carl I. Bourhenne Medical Research Foundation / Aging Intervention Foundation