A research study at the Harvard Medical School studied the effect of 20 minutes of meditation. It found that it led to an increase in the thickness of brain regions. This helps to increase concentration, memory and the capacity to pay attention. So, you may not be a follower of Buddhism but you can still use meditation to gain its benefits.
Refining Attention has always been an integral part of Tibetan techniques of Meditation. By gently guiding your attention back to the sensations within your physical body and the subtleties of your breath (whenever a thought takes you), you not only enter something coined by Harvard University as the "Relaxation Respone" but you also enter into mental training at a very simple yet perfect level.
The Pre-Frontal Cortex which houses the planning complex cognitive behaviors, personality expression, decision making and moderating correct social behavior, has been shown to thicken and increase in synaptic connections.
The basic activity of this brain region is considered to be the orchestration of thoughts and actions in accordance with internal goals. So you can imaging the heightened sense of connection that you would get by developing this region - connection to your work, personal life and even loved ones.
This heightened connection also helps in providing a state of optimism, motivation and resiliance which all brought together heighten your ability to maintain attention over a longer period of time.
Here are a few articles on Meditation proven to increase Attention and Cognitive abilities from PubMed.com - the leading Medical Study Archive onlin:
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