Larger hippocampal dimensions in meditation practitioners: differential effects in women and men.

Author: Luders E1, Thompson PM2, Kurth F1.
Affiliation: 1Department of Neurology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles , Los Angeles, CA, USA. 2Imaging Genetics Center, Institute for Neuroimaging and Informatics, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California , Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Conference/Journal: Front Psychol.
Date published: 2015 Mar 6
Other: Volume ID: 6 , Pages: 186 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00186 , Word Count: 152

On average, the human hippocampus shows structural differences between meditators and non-meditators as well as between men and women. However, there is a lack of research exploring possible sex effects on hippocampal anatomy in the framework of meditation. Thus, we obtained high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging data from 30 long-term meditation practitioners (15 men/15 women) and 30 well-matched control subjects (15 men/15 women) to assess if hippocampus-specific effects manifest differently in male and female brains. Hippocampal dimensions were enlarged both in male and in female meditators when compared to sex- and age-matched controls. However, meditation effects differed between men and women in magnitude, laterality, and location on the hippocampal surface. Such sex-divergent findings may be due to genetic (innate) or acquired differences between male and female brains in the areas involved in meditation and/or suggest that male and female hippocampi are differently receptive to mindfulness practices.
MRI; brain; gender; hippocampus; meditating; mindfulness; sex
PMID: 25798115