August 15, 2009
"[S]tudies suggest that there could be a striking similarity between the brains of meditators and those of people with dementia or depression."
It's true, but it's not quite what it sounds like. While ordinary brains switch between two neural networks—one externally focused and the other internally focused—skilled meditators who reach "a state of oneness" seem to keep both networks going at once. Surprisingly, the same holds true for and those suffering from dementia, depression, or Alzheimer's. But according to New York University research scientists Zoran Josipovic—himself a Budddhist—and David Heeger, meditators have a choice of focus whereas those suffering from brain diseases like Alzheimer's do not.
Josipovic and Heeger use functional MRI technology in their studies, something we've come to hear a lot about from the Mind & Life crowd, particularly in the studies of the University of Wisconsin's Dr. Richard Davidson (click here for an interview with Davidson and his colleagues).
For more on the NYU study, here