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Andreas Roepstorff

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

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Section for Anthropology and Ethnography
  • Department of Philosophy
  • Department of Anatomy
  • Center for Functionally Integrative Neuroscience
Extensive practice involving sustained attention can lead to changes in brain structure. Here, we report evidence of structural differences in the lower brainstem of participants engaged in the long-term practice of meditation. 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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNeuroReport
Volume20
Issue2
Pages (from-to)170-174
Number of pages5
ISSN0959-4965
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2009

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