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Meditation Studies Featured in 'Time'

Mindfulness issue features research by Clifford Saron and lab members.

A special edition of Time magazine, “The New Mindfulness,” features research by Center for Mind and Brain scientists on physiological changes in people who participated in an intensive meditation retreat.

An article, “The Antiaging Promise of Mindfulness,” spotlights a study out of neuroscientist Clifford Saron’s lab with the lead author, psychology doctoral student Quinn Conklin, members of his lab and colleagues at UCSF and the University of Barcelona. The study demonstrates that telomeres, protective caps on chromosomes, lengthened in the immune-system cells of people after three weeks into the monthlong retreat.

“We really didn’t expect to see this much evidence of change after such a short period of time,” Saron told writer Katherine Ellison. Saron leads the Shamatha Project, one of the most ambitious and comprehensive longitudinal studies of meditation ever conducted.

“While a monthlong retreat is out of reach for most people, our findings may help to change the conversation around cultural attitudes that keep people from taking serious time out for the activities they find most meaningful and restorative,” reports Conklin.

The article also cites a study by Anthony Zanesco and other Shamatha Project researchers that followed a group of devoted meditators over seven years and found "enduring improvements in sustained attention and response inhibition, with the potential to alter longitudinal trajectories of cognitive change across the lifespan.”

Zanesco, who earned his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in psychology at UC Davis, is now a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Miami.

Learn more: 

“Markers of Cellular Aging Improve During Insight Meditation Retreat”(UC Davis Egghead research blog, Aug. 2, 2018)