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Study: Eight-week Mindfulness Courses Do Not Change the Brain

Earlier studies may have been hampered by a small, self-selected, particularly needy participant base and by the fact that any intervention can succeed at first

In recent years, as mindfulness meditation began to catch on, research, including this open-access paper, claimed that eight weeks of mindfulness could change the structure of the brain. The neuroplasticity on which such studies relied is real enough. But a just-released study has found no evidence that eight-week courses like “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction” make so radical a difference: In new research, a team from the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, led by Richard J. Davidson, found no evidence of structural brain changes with short-term mindfulness training. Published May 20 in Science Advances, the team’s study is the largest and most rigorously controlled to date. In two novel trials, over 200 healthy participants with no meditation experience…