Long-Term Meditation Produces Neural Growth in the Brain Stem
From Dr. David Hamilton
A January 2009 study by scientists at the Center for Functionally Integrative Neuroscience at Aarhus University in Denmark, has found structural changes in the lower brain stem due to meditation.
Using MRI scans, they detected higher gray matter density in the lower brain stem of experienced meditators compared with a control group of similar ages who were not meditators.
This area is involved in cardiovascular system control and respiratory system control.This may give long-term meditators more control over their heart rhythms and respiration, as well as influence over their immune system, and may even have effects on alertness and sleep quality. Indeed, these are areas that meditation has been scientifically shown to affect.
Ever heard of Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI's)
When we focus our minds on any part of our bodies, the corresponding part of the brain that's connected to it is activated. For instance, if you imagine moving your right hand, the area of your brain governing your right hand is activated, just because of your thought. This activation is easily measured with EEG technology.
With Brain-Computer Interfaces, which can be small circuits that measure brain activity, scientists can detect activation in the part of the brain that governs whichever part of the body a person is imagining moving. So if a person imagines moving their right leg, the BCI picks up activity in the 'right leg' portion of the brain.
With, say, people with spinal cord injuries, the BCI then stimulate a prosthetic limb on the right leg and the person takes a step forward, just from a thought. In some research with BCI's, patients have been able to move a cursor across a screen, and even type an e-mail, by using thoughts of right, left, etc.
In a recent piece of research, scientists at the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Iran University of Science and Technology discovered that meditation was an efficient way to boost the quality and accuracy of movement, presumably through its ability to improve concentration.
In the control group of the study, accuracy was 70%, but in the group who practiced meditation, the accuracy was 89%, with one participant achieving 98% accuracy. So, following meditation practice, people who use BCI's will have much greater control and prosthetic devices will respond much more accurately.
So there we have it: meditation is a great way to boost concentration ability and will help you in any area of your life where concentration is needed.