Meditation and Brain: Gyrification

Meditation and Brain: Gyrification         Ken Zhang

 

Modern Neuroscience is still very young, so we are only beginning to understand how the brain works. One fascinating and still mysterious property of the brain is Gyrification, a process of cortical folding that gives the brain its wrinkle-like appearance. If you’ve seen an image of the brain, you’ll notice it’s grooves, folds, and dips; these characteristics result from Gyrification.

To accommodate for the physical limitations of the human skull, this process essentially allows for more surface area without expansion in the skull’s actual size. In this 2012 study at UCLA, researchers found that long-term meditators have, on average, more Gyrification in certain areas of the brain, with longer-term practitioners having had more Gyrification than shorter-term meditation practitioners. Specifically, the researchers found Gyrification in the areas of the brain that are the “hubs for autonomic, affective, cognitive integration.”

 
So, what are the implications? Well if you take a comparison across animal species you will see that those with higher levels of intelligence have a much more gyrified brain as compared with the smoother brains of reptiles and other mammals.  Although not conclusive, we can extrapolate that more Gyrification correlates with a higher order of intelligence and control.