This Monk's Brain is Eight Years Younger Than His Body
Mon, April 19, 2021

This Monk's Brain is Eight Years Younger Than His Body


Multiple studies have suggested that there is some connection between routine meditation and the slowing of biological aging. To further deepen our understanding of this, a group of scientists from the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madision studied the brain development of Buddhist monk and meditation teacher Mingyur Rinpoche. 


Credits: All That’s Interesting


Mingyur Rinpoche is believed to be the seventh incarnation of Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, master of the Karma Kagyu and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. He has been practicing meditation since he was nine years old and guiding other senior Buddhist practitioners in the methods of Buddhist meditation since he was a teenager. Thus, the monk’s brain was the perfect subject to test the long-term effects of meditation on the human brain.


Credits: All That’s Interesting


According to All That’s Interesting, a site for curious people who want to know more about what they saw on the news or read in history books, the researchers scanned Mingyur Rinpoche’s brain four times using structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify the changes in his brain over time. The results of these were compared to the brain scans of a group of 105 adults sharing the same age as the Buddhist monk. The team was able to estimate the age of the brain through its grey matter using a machine learning tool called the Brain Age Gap Estimation (BrainAGE) framework.


Credits: All That’s Interesting


The findings of the study showed that while Rinpoche’s brain is 41 years old, the tests showed that it looked as if it belonged to a 33-year-old. It also revealed that the meditation guru’s brain had also “matured” early. “There are areas of the brain that come online in the mid to late 20s, for example, regulatory regions of the brain that play an important role in self-regulation, in regulating our attention,” Richard Davidson, a senior researcher on the study and a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the university, said. 

“It may be that these areas are maturing earlier in the meditators, and that would make sense, because we believe that meditation can strengthen these areas and these kinds of functions [in the brain],” Davidson added. 




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