Posts Tagged ‘ucla’

Meditation has always been a wonderful way to calm, center, and focus the mind and spirit.  Evidence out of UCLA suggests that this kind of quiet, directed introspection could also strengthen the connections between neurons and increase the amount of folding in the layers of the brain.  A study by the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging shows that long-term meditators have a higher rate of gyrification, (or the amount of folding found in the cortex), which may allow practitioners to process information faster and integrate emotional and rational intelligence more efficiently.

Furthermore, there was a direct correlation between the amount of years spent in a variety of meditative disciplines, including Zen, Samatha, and Vipassana, and the total folding of the cortex.  After scanning thousands of points across the brain, the researchers also noted pronounced increases in gyrification in specific regions of the brain, most interestingly within the insular regions.  This might suggest a relationship between the area’s autonomic, affective, and integrative aspects and mediation’s goals of self-control, awareness, and introspection.

Following a form of meditation can also help manage physical pain.  A study published in the American Psychological Association’s journal, Emotion, reported that research out of the of University Montreal discovered that Zen meditators had more grey matter than non-mediators.  This meant that through thickening certain areas of their cortex, particularly the anterior cingulate which regulates pain, they were able to reduce their levels of sensitivity.  Even their perceptions of physical discomfort were less pronounced, as their emotional reactions were more controlled and they experienced less anticipation an anxiety.  Zen thought can even help re -focus someone back to their task at hand after being interrupted by distraction much more quickly.

With such amazing results, why not take a quiet moment or two to recite a mantra, do some yoga, or take a deep breath and ponder the mysteries of the universe?  Your brain may fold in on itself with joy!



When Francie Rehwald requested architect David Hertz to build her a home with a “feminine” and curved shape, he envisioned a floating roof reminiscent of a jetliner wing.  The design seemed so seductively sensible that Hertz decided to construct the entire house out of a decommissioned, landfill-bound Boeing 747.

The structure incorporates nearly all of the jetliner,  a whopping 4.5 million separate parts forming the property’s main residence and outlying edifices.  The Main Residence and Master Bedrooms take advantage of the plane’s wings and tail stabilizers, the Art Studio, Guest House and Animal Barn integrate the cargo holds, fuselages and first class cabins, and the Meditation Pavilion is formed from the entire front of the 747.   To add to the Wing House’s green credentials, the rest of the home is built out of 100% post-consumer waste, takes advantage of solar panels, natural ventilation, radiant heating, and mirror glazing. The house is registered with the FAA in order to ensure that from above the abode is not mistaken for a downed aircraft.

Hertz himself, a native of Los Angeles, has been fascinated with the intersections between human habitation and the natural landscape since childhood.  His credentials as an architect, fabricator, and environmental designer include degrees from UCLA, The Southern California Institute of Architecture, and an internship with John Lautner and an apprenticeship under Frank Lloyd Wright.  He holds numerous awards and publications, and was the youngest member to be inducted to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects.

The NY MOMA and Smithsonian boast pieces of Hertz’s environmentally focused furniture collections, and have been acquired as permanent parts of their collections.  Hertz is also LEED certified, and has offered his services pro-bono to many non-profits, among them Architects, Designers and Planners for Social Responsibility and Business for Social Responsibility.  As if this were not enough to make his resume shine so as to be seen from space, Hertz has also served as a faculty member for both UCLA and the Pasadena Art Center College of Design.

The environmental architectural movement has a great advocate in David Hertz, who will no doubt help in lifting the trend towards sustainable building off the ground.