According to research meditation and yoga can reshape the brain, a principle called neuroplasticity. To summarize this allready short presentation by Dr. Lazar, it prevents age-related degeneration in an area of the prefrontal cortex responsible for working memory and executive decision. Furthermore it changes the amount of grey matter in several other brain areas. Most notably an increase in the tempo-parietal area which houses empathy and the hippocampus which is involved in memory and mood; A decrease was found in the amygdala which regulates fear and stress response. Grey matter consists of theconnections between brain cell bodies (white matter). The amount of brain cells hardly changes, their interconnections change all the time, as we have new experiences and learn new skills. As Lazar explains research is starting to identify the neurological basis for the benefits of meditation and yoga, which amongst others are and increase in empathy and memory and decrease of depression and stress and an improvement in overall wellbeing.
Dr. Sara Lazar has received a PhD in neuroscience at Hardvard medical school.