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7 Ways Meditation Changes the Brain

By: Kayla Barnes

Meditation Helps Preserve the Aging Brain

A study from UCLA found that long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged. Participants who had been meditating for an average of 20 years had more grey matter volume throughout the brain.


Meditation Reduces Activity in the Brains "Me Center"

An interesting study conducted at Yale University found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN), the brain network responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts.

Its Effects Rival Antidepressants for Depression, Anxiety

A study at Johns Hopkins looked at the relationship between mindfulness meditation and its ability to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain. Researcher Madhav Goyal and his team found that the effect size of meditation was moderate, at 0.3. The effect size for antidepressants is also 0.3.

Meditation May Lead to Volume Changes in Key Areas of the Brain

Harvard found that mindfulness meditation can change the structure of the brain: Eight weeks of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was found to increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory and in certain areas of the brain that play roles in emotion regulation and self-referential processing. There were also decreases in brain cell volume in the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress.

Just a Few Days of Meditation Training Improves Concentration and Attention

One recent study found that just a couple of weeks of meditation training helped people focus and remember during the verbal reasoning section of the GRE.

Meditation Reduces Anxiety and Social Anxiety

Studies have shown its benefits in reducing anxiety, even years after the initial 8-week course. Research has shown that mindfulness meditation can reduce anxiety in contrast to attending to the breath only.

Meditation Can Help with Addiction

A growing number of studies have shown that, given its effects on the brain's self-control regions, meditation can be very effective in helping people recover from various types of addiction.


Kayla Barnes is an Entrepreneur, Certified Brain Health Coach by the Amen Clinics, and founder of, the world's first boutique brain health coaching company. Barnes has been working with clients in the health and wellness industry for over ten years and has trained under one of the nation's leading psychiatrists and brain health experts, Dr. Daniel Amen.