Science and Consciousness Review have an interview with neuroscientist Sara Lazar, who conducted the first fMRI study of meditation in 2000, and recently hit the news for reporting that meditation may increase the thickness of the grey matter in the cortex.
The interview explores Sara’s motivation for studying meditation, and discusses the science and implications of her work.
When we first posted about the meditation study, one of the criticisms was that the study simply compared meditators to non-meditators without following them up to actually see if the cortex did change over time.
It could be argued that people with more grey matter are simply more likely to meditate, rather than the act of meditation having any direct effect on grey matter.
Like the London cab driver study (which reported that cab drivers have larger hippocampi) Lazar’s meditation study reported a correlation between number of years spent meditating and the amount of grey matter, making it much less likely that the effect was incidental.
Lazar discusses such results in detail and, particularly, focuses on the brain areas found to show the most change, and relates them to the possible effects meditation may be having on the brain’s function.
Link to interview with Dr. Sara W. Lazar.