Meditation boosts part of brain where ADD, addictions reside
By Casey Johnston
Spending some time meditating may improve the integrity and efficiency of certain connections in the brain, according to a new study. When a group of participants meditated regularly over the course of a month, brain scans showed increased nerve connections in the areas that govern reward processing and decision making. The authors of the study hope this particular kind of meditation can be adapted to help those conditions with manifestations in the same area of the brain, such as ADD, addiction, and dementia.
In the experiment, a small group of college students were instructed to do integrative body-mind training, or IBMT, in half-hour chunks for a total of 11 hours during one month. The IBMT involved a combination of activities, including body relaxation, mental imagery, and mindfulness training accompanied by specific kinds of music.
Compared to a control group that underwent only relaxation training, brain scans of the students who meditated for a total of at least 11 hours during the month had slightly increased connections in the white matter that connects the anterior cingulate cortex to the rest of the brain; by some measures, these connections were also more robust. The ACC processes decisions, conflicts, and rewards, and deficits in that area have been linked to ADD, depression, dementia, addictions, and schizophrenia.
While the study was small in scale, the authors hope that the training might eventually be used for therapy or intervention for these conditions, as well as a general way of making people less impatient, greedy, and anxious. The experiment's results also serve as a small probe into the nature of brain plasticity, one that the researchers hope to build upon in the future.
http://arstechnica.com/science/news/201 ... reside.ars