We have written many articles with regard to why you might consider including some time to meditate each day and have also provided a free Ebook guiding beginners through the practice of meditation. If you are still on the fence with regard to the benefits of daily meditation then maybe this latest research may help you with your decision.
Today’s statistics show that cognitive impairment impacts an estimated 16 million people in the US alone. With this in mind the researchers at the University of California Davis, carried out a study that revealed that meditating for just one hour a day can buffer the effects of age-related cognitive decline. The study spanned seven years and examined the long-term benefits the participants gained from meditating. One of the benefits pointed to a link between meditation and brain aging.
For the study, investigators followed-up on previous research they had done in 2011. This study evaluated the cognitive abilities of 60 people who regularly meditated before and after they went on a three-month-long retreat at a meditation center in the US.
The participants meditated daily at the center. The techniques used were ones that were designed to calm them, and help generate compassion, love and kindness.
The researchers then followed up seven years later with 40 of the original participants who had remained in the study group.They found that 85 percent of them attended at least one meditation retreat, and they practiced about one hour a day for seven years. To test their cognitive abilities they asked each participant to complete assessments designed to measure their reaction time and ability to pay attention to a task.
The results indicated that continued meditation practice is associated with enduring improvements in sustained attention and response inhibition, or suppression of actions that are inappropriate. These effects were significant in older adults who meditated more over the past seven years. They did not show typical patterns of age-related decline in sustained attention.
Another study conducted in 2011 by the Massachusetts General Hospital concurred with these results. They found that people who meditate are able to quickly adjust their brain waves. Our brain waves are responsible for the regulation of the flow of information we take in, people who meditate were able to screen out distractions with ease.
Another study published in 2012 by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles revealed that people who meditate regularly have increased amounts of gyrification, a process that involves the ‘folding’ of the cerebral cortex, which plays a key role in memory, attention and thought. The gyrification process allows the brain to process information faster and enhances neural processing.
Researchers of the current study said their findings are the first to “offer evidence that intensive and continued meditation practice is associated with enduring improvements.”
However, they are not sure why meditation aids cognitive impairment and said more research is needed to determine if it is effective at countering the effects of aging on the brain.