Spending just eight weeks studying meditation can make the brain "quicker".
Millions of people around the world use the practice to help them unwind or seek mental clarity, with the majority following or inspired by the centuries-old practices of Buddhism.
While those who meditate claim it helps to calm their minds, researchers from Binghamton University have now found scientific evidence that it can impact brain patterns.
For the study, a team led by Assistant Professor Weiying Dai recruited 10 students and conducted MRI scans of their brains, with longtime meditation practitioner and lecturer George Weinschenk teaching them to meditate, and requiring them to practice five times a week for 10 or 15 minutes, and asked them to keep a journal record.
Accordingly, the researchers found that the meditation training led to faster switching between the brain's two general states of consciousness.
"The findings of the study demonstrate that meditation can enhance the brain connection among and within these two brain networks, indicating the effect of meditation on fast switching between the mind wandering and focusing its attention as well as maintaining attention once in the attentive state," they reported, while Weinschenk added: "Tibetans have a term for that ease of switching between states - they call it mental pliancy, an ability that allows you to shape and mould your mind. They also consider the goal of concentration one of the fundamental principles of self-growth."
The academics are now hoping to repeat the experiment with a group of elderly participants.
Full study results have been published in the journal Scientific Reports.