Study shows meditation may have potential to change the physical structure of the brain

post by playtherapist · 2011-07-15T17:03:37.362Z · score: -2 (3 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 6 comments

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811911006008

6 comments

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comment by jimrandomh · 2011-07-15T17:26:47.755Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This belongs in the Discussion section, not Main. Also, the linked article is behind a paywall.

comment by Protagoras · 2011-07-15T22:32:56.953Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Also, if meditation has any effect at all on a person's mental functioning (which I guess is pretty uncontroversial), presumably it must change the physical structure of the brain (that's the only way thinking can change). So why would this be news?

comment by gwern · 2011-07-15T23:12:33.355Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You are using physical in a rather broad sense.

"Also, if apt-get updateing my Debian system has any effect at all on a computer's functioning, presumably it must change the physical structure of the computer (that's the only way processing can change). So why would this news about a bug in X.org which makes the monitor explode be news?"

comment by Protagoras · 2011-07-27T21:37:46.842Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Your analogy is not particularly apt, gwern, as the structure of the human brain doesn't have the characteristics which enable a reasonably sharp hardware/software distinction to be drawn in computers.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-07-27T22:35:40.014Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Very little is currently known about the cerebral characteristics that underlie the complex processes of meditation as only a limited number of studies have addressed this topic. Research exploring structural connectivity in meditation practitioners is particularly rare.

We knew already that meditation changed the concentration of neurotransmitters and blood flow in the brain, but not that it changed the white matter. At least, that's what I gather from the abstract; I don't care enough to pay for the full article.

It's new science. Hence news.

EDIT: This is the same distinction gwern made in their analogy below, but perhaps more explicit.

comment by play_therapist · 2011-07-27T21:50:32.980Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's news, in my opinion, because it is concrete evidence that meditation does have a very real effect on the mental functioning of those who practice it regularly for long periods of time.