Meditation / Yoga may slow Dementia / Alzheimer’s. A new pilot study led by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center suggests that the brain changes associated with meditation and stress reduction may play a role in slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia. Scientists call it mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) therapy.
Meditation / Yoga May Slow Dementia / Alzheimer’s
“MBSR is a relatively simple intervention, with very little downside, that may provide real promise for these individuals,Û said lead author Rebecca Erwin Wells, M.D., MPH, assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.”
Researchers wanted to know if stress reduction through meditation might improve cognitive reserve. Wells evaluated adults between the ages of 55 and 90 including 14 adults diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.
Participants were randomized two to one either to a group who participated in MBSR using meditation and yoga, or a control group who received normal care. The study group met for two hours each week for eight weeks. They also participated in a day-long mindfulness retreat, and were encouraged to continue their practice at home for 15 to 30 minutes per day. All participants underwent a functional MRI (fMRI) at baseline and then again after eight weeks to determine if there were any changes in the structures of the brain or in brain activity. Previous studies have shown that the hippocampus is activated during meditation and that mediators have more hippocampal gray matter concentration. The results of fMRI imaging showed that the group engaged in MBSR had significantly improved functional connectivity. As expected, both groups experienced atrophy of the hippocampus, but those who practiced MBSR experienced less atrophy. So what are you waiting for? Get started already!