Explore This Lab

Our results provide compelling evidence that meditation can produce experience-based structural alterations in the brain. We also found indications that meditation may slow down the age-related atrophy of certain areas of the brain.

Research Projects

Successful cognitive aging
This project is a large study of the impact of meditation training on cognition and brain structure in healthy older adults. The study will address the questions: Can older adults still experience the changes in brain structure following meditation training that were found in younger subjects? Can meditation slow the normal decline in cognition that happens as we grow older?

Comparison of different types of practice
This project, in collaboration with the Benson Henry Mind Body Medical Institute, is comparing changes in brain structure and function following randomization to yoga, the Relaxation Response, or a control program. Changes in neural structure and function will be compared to changes in stress biomarkers.



Sevinc G, Hölzel BK, Hashmi J, Greenberg J, McCallister A, Treadway M, Schneider ML, Dusek JA, Carmody J, Lazar SW. Common and Dissociable Neural Activity After Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Relaxation Response Programs. Psychosom Med 2018 Jun;80(5):439-451.

Greenberg J, Romero VL, Elkin-Frankston S, Bezdek MA, Schumacher EH, Lazar SW. Reduced interference in working memory following mindfulness training is associated with increases in hippocampal volume.Brain Imaging Behav. 2018 Mar 17.


Afonso RF, Balardin JB, Lazar SW, Sato JR, Igarashi N, Santaella DF, Lacerda SS, Amaro E, Kozasa EH.  Greater cortical thickness in elderly female yoga practitioners–a cross-sectional studyFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience 9,201, 2017

Van Dam N,  van Vugt M, Vago D,  Schmalzl L,  Saron C, Olendzki A, Meissner T, Lazar S, Kerr C, Gorchov J, Fox K, Field B, Britton W, Brefczynski-Lewis, J, Meyer D. Mind the hype: A critical evaluation and prescriptive agenda for scientific research on mindfulness and meditationPerspectives on Psychological Science


Greenberg J, Shapiro BG, Mischoulon D, et al. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depressed individuals improves suppression of irrelevant mental-setsEuropean Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience. 2016 :1-6. Publisher's Version | Abstract

de Jong M, Lazar S, Hug K, Mehling WE, Hölzel BK, Sack AT, Peeters F, Ashih H, Mischoulon D, Gard T. Effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy on body awareness in patients with chronic pain and comorbid depressionFrontiers in Psychology. 2016;7 :967. | Abstract

Hölzel BK, Brunsch V, Gard T, Greve DN, Koch K, Sorg C, Lazar SW, Milad MR. Mindfulness-based stress reduction, fear conditioning, and the uncinate fasciculus: A pilot studyFrontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. 2016;10 :124. Publisher's Version | Abstract


Good DJ, Lyddy CJ, Glomb TM, Bono JE, Brown KW, Duffy MK, Baer RA, Brewer JA, Lazar SW. Contemplating mindfulness at work an integrative reviewJournal of Management [Internet]. 2015 :0149206315617003. Publisher's Version | Abstract

Gard T, Taquet M, Dixit R, Hölzel BK, Dickerson BC, Lazar SW. Greater widespread functional connectivity of the caudate in older adults who practice kripalu yoga and vipassana meditation than in controlsFrontiers in Human Neuroscience [Internet]. 2015;9 (137). Publisher's Version | Abstract

Desbordes G, Gard T, Hoge EA, Hölzel BK, Kerr C, Lazar SW, Olendzki A, Vago DR. Moving beyond mindfulness: defining equanimity as an outcome measure in meditation and contemplative researchMindfulness [Internet]. 2015;6 (2) :356-372. Publisher's Version | Abstract


Singleton O, Hölzel BK, Vangel M, Brach N, Carmody J, Lazar SW. Change in brainstem gray matter concentration following a mindfulness-based intervention is correlated with improvement in psychological well-beingFrontiers in Human Neuroscience. 2014;8. Publisher's Version

Gard T, Taquet M, Dixit R, Hoelzel BK, De_montjoye Y, Brach N, Salat D, Dickerson BC, Gray JR, Lazar SW. Fluid intelligence and brain functional organization in aging yoga and meditation practitionersFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience. 2014;6 :76. Publisher's Version |Abstract

Deckersbach T, Hölzel B, Eisner L, Lazar SW, Nierenberg AA. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Bipolar Disorder. 2014.

Gard T, Hölzel BK, Lazar SW. The potential effects of meditation on age‐related cognitive decline: a systematic reviewAnnals of the New York Academy of Science. 2014;1307 (1) :89-103. Publisher's Version | Abstract

Interview With Dr. Lazar

Dr. Lazar was featured on TheConnection.tv, a multimedia channel focused on mind/body research.

Meet Our Team

Sara Lazar, PhD
Associate Researcher in Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital
Assistant Professor in Psychology, Harvard Medical School

Tanya Datta
Clinical Research Coordinator

Jonathan Greenberg, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School

Robert Kaufman
Clinical Research Coordinator

Gunes Sevinc, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow,
Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School