Scientific American highlights the latest research on meditation in its November issue. One of the most interesting findings discussed in the article is the research using MRIs to looked at differences in brain structure between experienced meditators and controls. Greater volume of tissue in the prefrontal cortex and the insula has been observed in meditators when compared to a control group. These parts of the brain specifically relate to attention skills and processing sensory information and internal bodily states. Growth in these areas can impact a awareness of self and can contribute to improvements in empathy and self-regulation. The research is increasingly pointing to mental training as a method of changing both the structure and function of the brain. Dr. Sara Lazar is one of the researchers highlighted in the article. You can watch an 8-minute TedTalk about her research by clicking here.