Two interesting studies publicized last week:
The first studies SuperAgers, defined as persons aged 80 and above, but with memories that are as sharp as those of healthy persons decades younger [http://www.kurzweilai.net/superager-brains-yield-new-clues-to-their-remarkable-memories]. Their unusual brain signature has three common components when compared with normal persons of similar ages: a thicker region of the cortex; significantly fewer tangles (a primary marker of Alzheimer’s disease), and a whopping supply of a specific neuron - von Economo - linked to higher social intelligence. It’s thought that these von Economo neurons play a critical role in the rapid transmission of behaviorally relevant information related to social interactions.
In the other [http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-02-young-meditation-age-related-loss-gray.html], the scientists looked specifically at the association between age and gray matter. They compared 50 people who had mediated for years and 50 who didn't. People in both groups showed a loss of gray matter as they aged. But the researchers found among those who meditated, the volume of gray matter did not decline as much as it did among those who didn't. Accumulating scientific evidence that meditation has brain-altering capabilities might ultimately allow for an effective translation from research to practice, not only in the framework of healthy aging but also pathological aging.
So the question is what effect would have group meditation? Couldn't we preserve gray matter and increase number of von Economo neurons at the same time?