The Power of “Cortical Folding” aka “Gyrification”
In terms of brain health, what exactly is “cortical folding” or “gyrification” and how does it increase your mental capacity? These questions may seem to address complex issues best left to neuroscience, except for one simple practice that directly relates to them: meditation. Researchers have been studying the effects of meditation on the brain for decades, and have come to some important conclusions that may offer further motivation and inspiration for regular—and certainly for aspiring—practitioners of this time-honored healing art.
Published Studies Prove Numerous Benefits of Meditation
Over the years, published research has demonstrated that the practice of regular meditation can increase brain density, boost connections between neurons, decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety, provide clarity of thought, and increase positive mood endorphins. Other published studies have shown meditation can improve physical functioning, decrease chronic disease risks, and enhance overall quality of life. These studies demonstrate that regular meditation effectively supports mental, emotional and physical health in numerous tangible ways. In building upon this strong body of evidence, researchers are continuing to deepen our understanding of the profound and inspirational benefits of regular meditation practice in everyday life.
UCLA Researchers Uncover New Benefits of Meditation for the Brain
Most recently, neuroscientists at UCLA have shown another fascinating neural effect of regular meditation: the ability to increase “cortical gyrification” of the brain. Cortical gyrification refers to the folding of the cerebral cortex – a function that allows the brain to process information faster. The cerebral cortex is the outermost layer of neural tissue in the brain and serves an important role in controlling memory, consciousness, thought processing, decision making, attention, and awareness. During cortical gyrification, the tissues of the cerebral cortex fold, creating indented fissures and “creases” called sulci and gyri. The sulci and gyri increase neural processing and neurotransmitter communication. In this way, increased gyrification enhances the brain’s capacity for computing information, maintaining focus and attention, creating and retrieving memory, processing logic, and forming decisions.
The neuroscientists at UCLA compared meditators of different experience levels to people who never meditated. In those who meditated, they found significant increases in cortical folding across a wide area of the brain responsible for numerous functions beyond rapid information processing and retrieval. Additional areas of the brain markedly affected by meditation involve emotional and mental health capacities, influencing processes of emotional control, heightened awareness, and introspection. This falls directly in line with some of the more noticeable results…