If you want to be smarter – and stave off aging to boot – meditation may be the answer. Ongoing research at Harvard, Yale and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has found that meditating can alter the physical structure of your brain.

Brain scans of meditators found that they had increased thickness in the parts of the brain that deal with attention and processing sensory input. Typically, the cortex of the brain gets thinner as we get older, but in those who meditated this area increased with age and the length of time that the person had practiced meditation.

This means that regular meditation could help to slow, or even reverse, mental decline. Lead researcher Sara Lazar concluded “Our data suggest that meditation practice can promote cortical plasticity in adults in areas important for cognitive and emotional processing and well-being”.

The findings were presented during the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience last November. The results were well received by the 14,000 visiting scientists, showing an increased acceptance and appreciation within the scientific community. Perhaps one day soon doctors will prescribe meditation for their patients as part of their health care protocol.

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