Meditation can help put your mind at ease as it rewires part of the brain that regulates behaviour and emotions, US research has found.
Researchers from the University of Oregon have discovered that learning a meditation technique called "integrated body-mind training" (IBMT) for 11 hours produces positive structural changes in the brain.
In the study of 45 students from the university, 22 subjects received IBMT training, while the other group was given relaxation training.
A type of magnetic resonance imaging called diffusion tensor imaging was used before and after the training to examine fibres connecting brain regions in volunteers.
Researchers discovered that that after six hours of IBMT training, changes in the area of the brain related to emotions and behaviour (the anterior cingulated cortex), had started to occur and became clear after 11 hours.
Deficits in this region have been associated with many disorders, including attention deficit disorder, dementia, depression and schizophrenia.
No changes were noted in the brains of volunteers who learnt relaxation techniques.
''The importance of our findings relates to the ability to make structural changes in a brain network related to self-regulation,'' said Professor Michael Posner , from the University of Oregon.
IBMT was adapted from traditional Chinese medicine in the 1990s, and combines different mind-body techniques including body relaxation, breathing control, mental imagery and mindfulness. It's practised by thousands of people in China today.
The research is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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