In Sitting Still, a Bench Press for the Brainwww.nytimes.com, John Hanc
The role that meditation plays in brain development has been the subject of several theories and a number of studies. One of them, conducted at the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that long-term meditators have greater gyrification - a term that describes the folding of the cerebral cortex, the outermost part of the brain. A striking finding of the study was that the degree of cortical gyrification appeared to increase as the number of years practicing meditation increased. "We used to believe that when you were born, your brain would grow and reach a peak in the early 20s and then start shrinking," Dr. Luders said. "It was thought there was nothing we could do to change that." Her research suggests that there might be. As a meditator for four years, Dr. Luders understands the degree of mental discipline involved. "People ask, 'What do you do? Just sit there with your eyes closed?' It's actually hard work, because you have to make a constant mental effort."