[Advaita-l] Brain structure and Memorization

Ramesam Vemuri vemuri.ramesam at gmail.com
Tue Aug 18 10:03:38 CDT 2015

Respected Members,

I have been seeing these reports being circulated in many public and
private e-mail groups in our country and have been waiting to see that a
more competent Scientist than me will correct the 'covert' slant implied in
the announcement.

As far as changes in the brain are concerned, it is long known that any
activity does modify the neuronal connections and repeated practices do
alter the cortical thickness, not only in people but also in many animals
and birds.

Even the morning cup of coffee we drink changes the neuronal connections.
The sensorimotor areas of the brains of athletes also show relative
differences compared to non-athletes.

A well-known example for the 'alteration' in the brain is the case of
London Taxi Drivers, as showed from the work done over five years ago.
Quoting from various published reports:

The examination to become a London cabby is possibly the most difficult
test in the world. "The Knowledge," as it is called, is unique to London
taxi licensing and involves a series of grueling exams that only about 50
percent of hopefuls pass.

Ever since 1865, they’ve had to memorise the location of every street
within six miles of Charing Cross – all 25,000 of the capital’s arteries,
veins and capillaries. They also need to know the locations of 20,000
landmarks – museums, police stations, theatres, clubs, and more – and 320
routes that connect everything up.

The taxi drivers need to know the way around so well that, when asked, he
can calculate the most direct legal route between any two addresses
anywhere in the entire 113-square-mile (293-square-kilometer) metropolitan
area within seconds, without looking at a map, and be able to rattle off
the precise sequence of streets, junctions, roundabouts, and left- and
right-hand turns necessary to complete such a journey.

The Scientists found that The Knowledge may enlarge the hippocampus's
posterior (rear) at the expense of its anterior (front), creating a
trade-off of cognitive talents—that is, taxi drivers master some forms of
memory but become worse at others.

Thus we may note that the Pundits may undoubtedly have altered brain
conditions in some lobes, but maybe at the expense of some other faculty.


On Tue, Aug 18, 2015 at 6:36 AM, Ajith Srinivas via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Hello,
> Came across a similar topic from other group.
> Courtesy: Dr.James Hartzell
> _________
> Dear all,
> Herewith a link to the published (in Neuroimage, open access),
> peer-reviewed study we did of the brain structure of Delhi-area, qualified
> Yajurveda Pandits from government Vedic schools.  I hope this may be of
> some interest and/or use to some members of the list.
> http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811915006382?np=y
> <
> http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sciencedirect.com%2Fscience%2Farticle%2Fpii%2FS1053811915006382%3Fnp%3Dy&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNHmOuXkNEFsdXhRxU8kBNBxSiJc2w
> >
> We found very large changes in the grey matter (neuronal tissue) of the
> Yajurveda Pandits' brains.  The evidence we found strongly suggests that
> 7-10 years of intensive, professional-level training in memorizing and
> reciting the Yajurveda Samhita (and related texts) is associated with some
> of the largest changes in brain structure ever reported for a
> cross-sectional study (i.e. one that compares two closely matched groups,
> here two groups that differ primarily in the Yajurveda training).
> Article Title:  Brains of verbal memory specialists show anatomical
> differences in language, memory and visual systems
> Authors:  James F. Hartzell,  Ben Davis, David Melcher, Gabriele Miceli,
> Jorge Jovicich, Tanmay Nath, Nandini Chatterjee Singh, Uri Hasson
> Highlights:
> •  We compared professional Sanskrit verbal memory specialists and
> well-matched controls.
> •  We measured cortical thickness (CT), gray matter density (GM), and
> gyrification (LGI).
> •  Pandits showed increases in CT and GM in lateral temporal cortices.
> •  Pandits showed relative decrease in subcortical GM and occipital LGI.
> •  Findings suggest brain organization supporting intensive oral
> memorization/recitation

*** snip ****

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list