For thousands of years, our ancient Sanskrit texts, especially the Vedas, comprising of thousands of words, were kept alive only through memorisation, and transferred from one generation to the next by speech. The tradition of oral learning and recitation is perhaps as old as the oldest cradle of Indian civilisation itself. Why did India’s ancient scholars preferred the oral way instead of writing it all down for everyone’s convenience? Did they believe memorising and reciting ancient Sanskrit mantras helped improve their memory? If they did, they were likely spot on.
The results of structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) show that memorising Sanskrit mantras can increase size of brain regions associated with cognitive function.
A team of scientists from University of Trento (Italy) – Hartzell JF, Davis B, Melcher D, Miceli G, Jovicich J, Nath T, Singh NC, Hasson U – studied a group of verbal memory specialists (professional Vedic pandits) to determine whether intensive oral text memory is associated with structural features of hippocampal and lateral-temporal regions implicated in language processing. They used MRI at India’s National Brain Research Centre to scan the brains of pandits and conducted structural analysis of gray matter density, cortical thickness, local gyrification, and white matter structure, relative to matched controls.