Regular Caffeine Consumption Affects Brain Structure

Regular Caffeine Consumption Affects Brain Structure

Frequent caffeine consumption reduces gray matter volume in areas of the right medial temporal lobe, including the hippocampus. Ten days of “caffeine abstinence” helps regenerate gray matter.

Regular Caffeine Consumption Affects Brain Structure - Neuroscience News

Daily caffeine consumption can change the gray matter of the brain
Daily caffeine consumption can change the gray matter of the brain

Meditation Associated With Increased Grey Matter In The Brain

Meditation is known to alter resting brain patterns, suggesting long lasting brain changes, but a new study by researchers from Yale, Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows meditation also is associated with increased cortical thickness.

Meditation Associated With Increased Grey Matter In The Brain -- ScienceDaily

Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density
Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density

Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness
Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness

Grey matter

Grey matter (or gray matter) is a major component of the central nervous system, consisting of neuronal cell bodies, neuropil (dendrites and unmyelinated axons), glial cells (astrocytes and oligodendrocytes), synapses, and capillaries. Grey matter is distinguished from white matter in that it contains numerous cell bodies and relatively few myelinated axons, while white matter contains relatively few cell bodies and is composed chiefly of long-range myelinated axons.[1] The colour difference arises mainly from the whiteness of myelin. In living tissue, grey matter actually has a very light grey colour with yellowish or pinkish hues, which come from capillary blood vessels and neuronal cell bodies.[2]

Grey matter - Wikipedia

What is Grey Matter?
What is Grey Matter?

Neuroanatomy, Gray Matter
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553239/

The first meditation teacher I had told me something that then sounded quite strange. He said that there is no such thing as a bad meditation! He was right. All those meditations which you call bad, frustrating and not meeting your expectations, all those meditations are where you do the hard work for your `pay cheque’…

It is like a person who goes to work all day Monday and gets no money at the end of the day. “What am I doing this for?”, he thinks. He works all day Tuesday and still gets nothing. Another bad day. All day Wednesday, all day Thursday, and still nothing to show for all the hard work. That’s four bad days in a row. Then along comes Friday, he does exactly the same work as before and at the end of the day the boss gives him a pay cheque. “Wow! Why can’t every day be a pay day?!”

Why can’t every meditation be pay day’? Now, do you understand the simile? It is in the difficult meditations that you build up your credit, where you build up the causes for success. While working for peace in the hard meditations, you build up your strength, the momentum for peace. Then when there’s enough credit of good qualities, the mind goes into a good meditation and it feels like pay-day’. It is in the bad meditations that you do most of the work.

https://bswa.org/teaching/basic-method-meditation-ajahn-brahm/

:anjal:

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Nooo! Don’t take away coffee, too!

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one scientific study shows that coffee decreases the gray matter of the brain and another scientific study shows that meditation increases the gray matter of the brain.

but there are also many scientific papers that show the health benefits of coffee.

13 Health Benefits of Coffee, Based on Science
13 Health Benefits of Coffee, Based on Science

and even some meditation practitioners may like to have a little coffee before practicing an hour or two of meditation.

So let’s drink in moderation

:anjal:

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Ehh. There’s no end to these studies, is there? Drink coffee, don’t drink coffee. You need to eat dark chocolate, wait no, you don’t. Make 10 000 steps a day. No, 4400 steps. Nonono, it’s 7500 steps! And on and on and on.

If these things were very impactful and certain, we’d have heard about it by now like we did with smoking. Coffee is also associated with lower risk of uterine cancer. But how many doctors are telling middle-aged women to drink coffee? Probably not many.

It seems that all you can reasonably do is eat regular food, move around, and do what your doctor tells you to. Anything beyond that is probably excessive concern about the body.

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I think the main thing to understand about caffeine is that it messes with the brain’s way of deciding when it’s time to become sleepy. But the brain is smarter than us and readjusts itself to however much caffeine we take in. The withdrawal symptoms in the morning are caused by that. There’s a crash that takes place when the brain notices the caffeine is gone. So, it’s best to not to drink more and more coffee to get that “high alertness” feeling. It’s kind of self defeating. When I realized too much caffeine was causing headaches and restlessness, I decided to scale it back. But I still drink coffee. Just decaf.

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This idea is actually something I worry about a fair amount. We say we want to “embrace the science” and to be “data-driven” and “empirically-minded” and so forth… but when it comes to modern science, it is a very difficult thing to put into practice.

I’m a scientist myself, I guess (although I suppose there’s an argument that social sciences are more literary than scientific!). But all I know is that as much as I have studied, I know just a teeeeny bit of a tiny corner if an itty-bitty bit of a speck on the corner of one little domain of knowledge. And that has taken me the better part of a lifetime.

So do we just throw up our arms as to being “informed” in the face of the avalanche of conflicting studies?

I read the Kālāmā Sutta to be an endorsement of something like “empiricism”, but I find it difficult to reconcile with modern science.

Mā anussavena, mā paramparāya, mā itikirāya, mā piṭakasampadānena, mā takkahetu, mā nayahetu, mā ākāraparivitakkena, mā diṭṭhinijjhānakkhantiyā, mā bhabbarūpatāya, mā samaṇo no garūti.

don’t go by oral transmission, don’t go by lineage, don’t go by testament, don’t go by canonical authority, don’t rely on logic, don’t rely on inference, don’t go by reasoned contemplation, don’t go by the acceptance of a view after consideration, don’t go by the appearance of competence, and don’t think “The ascetic is our respected teacher.”
Kesamuttisutta

How does “experience” incorporate second-hand but purportedly “factual” evidence like scientific studies?

Meanwhile, I shall continue to drink absurd amounts of coffee. :coffee: :coffee: :coffee:

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