ArticleLiterature Review

# Meditation and neurodegenerative diseases

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## Abstract

Neurodegenerative diseases pose a significant problem for the healthcare system, doctors, and patients. With an aging population, more and more individuals are developing neurodegenerative diseases and there are few treatment options at the present time. Meditation techniques present an interesting potential adjuvant treatment for patients with neurodegenerative diseases and have the advantage of being inexpensive, and easy to teach and perform. There is increasing research evidence to support the application of meditation techniques to help improve cognition and memory in patients with neurodegenerative diseases. This review discusses the current data on meditation, memory, and attention, and the potential applications of meditation techniques in patients with neurodegenerative diseases.

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... In line with this possibility, recent ideas (Fick et al., 2009;Jones et al., 2010;Shelley, 2013) refer to physical activity as a possible useful intervention to improve cognitive reserve, and, thus, for protecting against dementia risk, preventing delirium and slowing the rate of cognitive decline in early-stage Alzheimer's disease patients. In a similar fashion, other recent researches point to a role of mind-body techniques, and in particular yoga and meditation (for the latter see also next section), in enhancing cognitive reserve capacity, thus potentially preserving brain function and preventing or protecting against age-related brain degeneration and dementia (see reviews by Xiong and Doraiswamy, 2009;Gard et al., 2014;Luders, 2014;Newberg et al., 2014;Marciniak et al., 2014, Table 2). For instance, Newberg et al. (2010) tested the effect on memory of an 8 week yoga/meditation program, based on the practice of Kirtan Kriya (a form of mantra meditation derived from the Kundalini yoga tradition), on a group of older individuals with memory problems ranging from age-related memory difficulties (n = 7), mild cognitive impairment (n = 5), and early Alzheimer's disease (n = 3). ...
... listening to music performed by a group of control subjects) led to improvements on neuropsychological tests of logical memory and verbal fluency and in the Trail making test (part B) measuring working memory and attention. Moreover, these cognitive improvements in the practitioners were correlated with increases in cerebral blood flow in attention-and memory-related prefrontal and parietal regions, a finding suggestive of yoga/meditation-related increases in brain network efficiency/capacity (namely CR) (see Newberg et al., 2014;Marciniak et al., 2014 for the description of two other studies employing Kirtan Kriya techniques in the context of neurodegenerative diseases). ...
... In the past three decades there has been an increase in popular and scientific interest in the psychological and cognitive benefits of meditation and in the study of its influence on the brain. Several research lines have demonstrated that meditation practice can promote improvements in cognitive function and changes in the brain structure (Cahn and Polich, 2006;Newberg et al., 2014;Lutz et al., 2008;Tomasino et al., 2013). Moreover, positive clinical outcomes for anxiety, depression, immune function, pain, and stress-related disorders have been reported in clinical studies employing meditation trainings (e.g., Baer, 2003;Brown and Ryan, 2003;Didonna, 2009). ...
Article
Purpose: Cognitive impairment is one of the most disabling symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), affecting a large proportion of patients and having a severe impact on their quality of life. Nevertheless, there exists a large variability in the neuropsychological profiles of MS patients and some of them appear to withstand better than others the MS-related brain pathology before showing cognitive decline. In recent years, many studies have made use of concepts such as cognitive reserve and brain reserve to take account of the inter-individual discrepancy between cognitive impairment and MS pathology. Critically, these studies have left open the fundamental issue of the clinical implications of this research for the treatment of cognitive dysfunction in MS. Methods and results: We provide an updated and extensive overview of the studies that have explored cognitive and brain reserve in MS and discuss their implications for non-pharmacological therapeutic strategies aimed at potentiating patients' reserve. In particular, the possible utility of integrated approaches based on mind-body techniques such as mindfulness-meditation is considered. Conclusions: We conclude that these techniques represent challenging mental enriching activities that may help cultivating cognitive reserve and more systematic research on their efficacy to protect against cognitive degradation in MS is encouraged.
... Several studies have shown that the constant practice of meditation induces neuroplasticity phenomena, including the reduction of age-related brain degeneration [1][2][3] and the improvement of cognitive functions [4]. More specifically, the effects of meditation are correlated to improvements in attention [5], working memory [6], spatial abilities [7], and long-term memory [2]. ...
... Several studies have shown that the constant practice of meditation induces neuroplasticity phenomena, including the reduction of age-related brain degeneration [1][2][3] and the improvement of cognitive functions [4]. More specifically, the effects of meditation are correlated to improvements in attention [5], working memory [6], spatial abilities [7], and long-term memory [2]. ...
... Concentrative meditation techniques consist in focusing on specific mental or sensory activity, such as a repeating sound, a mental image, or specific bodily sensations such as breathing. On the other hand, the fundamental feature of mindfulness meditation is a particular type of attention characterized by a nonjudgmental thinking which allows the meditator to act in the daily life in a "nonreactive" manner [2,5]. ...
Article
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It has been suggested that the practice of meditation is associated to neuroplasticity phenomena, reducing age-related brain degeneration and improving cognitive functions. Neuroimaging studies have shown that the brain connectivity changes in meditators. In the present work, we aim to describe the possible long-term effects of meditation on the brain networks. To this aim, we used magnetoencephalography to study functional resting-state brain networks in Vipassana meditators. We observed topological modifications in the brain network in meditators compared to controls. More specifically, in the theta band, the meditators showed statistically significant ( p corrected = 0.009) higher degree (a centrality index that represents the number of connections incident upon a given node) in the right hippocampus as compared to controls. Taking into account the role of the hippocampus in memory processes, and in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease, meditation might have a potential role in a panel of preventive strategies.
... Both AD and MCI have pronounced effects on many regions of the brain (Newberg et al., 2014;Larouche et al., 2015). The deterioration of brain activity in AD arguably begins in the hippocampus, a part of the limbic system located in the medial temporal lobe, areas primarily associated with memory and emotion. ...
... The deterioration of brain activity in AD arguably begins in the hippocampus, a part of the limbic system located in the medial temporal lobe, areas primarily associated with memory and emotion. Deterioration then spreads to other regions, eventually affecting the whole brain glucose metabolism, resulting in reduced neuronal processing, particularly in the bilateral parietal and temporal lobes (Newberg et al., 2014). The temporal lobe is primarily associated with episodic memory, emotion and mood (Campbell and MacQueen, 2004;Phelps, 2004) while the parietal lobe is associated with sensation, selfawareness, attention, memory retrieval and theory of mind (Mesulam, 1983;Saxe and Kanwisher, 2003;Wagner et al., 2005). ...
Article
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This study investigates the relationship between mindfulness, meditation, cognition and stress in people with Alzheimer's disease (AD), dementia, mild cognitive impairment and subjective cognitive decline. Accordingly, we explore how the use of meditation as a behavioural intervention can reduce stress and enhance cognition, which in turn ameliorates some dementia symptoms. A narrative review of the literature was conducted with any studies using meditation as an intervention for dementia or dementia-related memory conditions meeting inclusion criteria. Studies where moving meditation was the main intervention were excluded due to the possible confounding of exercise. Ten papers were identified and reviewed. There was a broad use of measures across all studies, with cognitive assessment, quality of life and perceived stress being the most common. Three studies used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure functional changes to brain regions during meditation. The interventions fell into the following three categories: mindfulness, most commonly mindfulness-based stress reduction (six studies); Kirtan Kriya meditation (three studies); and mindfulness-based Alzheimer's stimulation (one study). Three of these studies were randomised controlled trials. All studies reported significant findings or trends towards significance in a broad range of measures, including a reduction of cognitive decline, reduction in perceived stress, increase in quality of life, as well as increases in functional connectivity, percent volume brain change and cerebral blood flow in areas of the cortex. Limitations and directions for future studies on meditation-based treatment for AD and stress management are suggested.
... Certain activated brain areas are connected to emotions and cognitive functions like attention, learning and memory [15,21,22], as well as to hormones and neurotransmitters for improving mood and reducing anxiety and depression [14,17,[23][24]. Neuroimaging studies have showed significant cerebral blood flow changes after meditation in different areas of the brain connected to attention, emotional and cognitive status, and perception of well-being [11,15,18,22,[25][26][27][28]. ...
... Nowdays, there is evidence that meditation may prevent age-related cognitive decline as well as reduction in cortical thickness, suggesting that the effects are correlated with length and intensity of training [20][21]41]. There is also evidence of increased cerebral blood flow, Newberg et al. [15] and Khalsa [22]. ...
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Objective: To study the effects of Kirtan Kriya Meditation (KKM) and 8-week yoga program on emotional and cognitive status, in MCI patients from our population, while undergoing cognitive training program (CTP).Design: We recruited 21 MCI adults GDS 3, for an open label non-randomized controlled study, but only 15 followed up. None had previous experience of meditation or yoga. Evaluation before and after the 8-week program was done by validated standard MCI tests. Seven patients practiced KKM for 12 minutes every day, weekly yoga session, and the standard cognitive training program while 8 patients only followed the cognitive training program (CTP).Results: The baseline negative mood and cognitive parameters became normal after the 8-week intervention program for the KKM group, decreasing tension, hostility, confusion and total PEA mood values (p<0.05). Depression and anxiety levels were also reduced to normal Goldberg score values. Similarly, the FCRST memory test showed higher memory scores for total free recall memory and TMT Trail-A test, moving to a normal range.Conclusions: The KKM group improved their psycho-emotional and cognitive health compared to CTP group. The yoga class elevated the perception of wellbeing. Further randomized studies are needed with a larger sample of MCI-diagnosed adults.
... A growing body of literature suggests that both meditation practice and listening to familiar and/or relaxing classical music can improve neurostructural and neurophysiologic profiles, and may enhance memory and cognitive performance in both healthy and clinical populations, including those with and at risk for cognitive impairment [30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38]. For example, recent prospective controlled studies in older adults with and without dementia suggest meditation may induce beneficial structural and functional changes, including increased grey matter volume, grey matter density, and functional connectivity [38,39], as well as enhanced oxygenation and glucose utilization in brain regions involved in cognitive processing, memory consolidation, and attention [38,40]. Similarly, findings from preliminary randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in these populations suggest that meditation may also improve certain domains of cognition, including attention, executive function, memory, and processing speed [34][35][36]40]. ...
... For example, recent prospective controlled studies in older adults with and without dementia suggest meditation may induce beneficial structural and functional changes, including increased grey matter volume, grey matter density, and functional connectivity [38,39], as well as enhanced oxygenation and glucose utilization in brain regions involved in cognitive processing, memory consolidation, and attention [38,40]. Similarly, findings from preliminary randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in these populations suggest that meditation may also improve certain domains of cognition, including attention, executive function, memory, and processing speed [34][35][36]40]. ...
Article
Background: While effective therapies for preventing or slowing cognitive decline in at-risk populations remain elusive, evidence suggests mind-body interventions may hold promise. Objectives: In this study, we assessed the effects of Kirtan Kriya meditation (KK) and music listening (ML) on cognitive outcomes in adults experiencing subjective cognitive decline (SCD), a strong predictor of Alzheimer's disease. Methods: Sixty participants with SCD were randomized to a KK or ML program and asked to practice 12 minutes/day for 3 months, then at their discretion for the ensuing 3 months. At baseline, 3 months, and 6 months we measured memory and cognitive functioning [Memory Functioning Questionnaire (MFQ), Trail-making Test (TMT-A/B), and Digit-Symbol Substitution Test (DSST)]. Results: The 6-month study was completed by 53 participants (88%). Participants performed an average of 93% (91% KK, 94% ML) of sessions in the first 3 months, and 71% (68% KK, 74% ML) during the 3-month, practice-optional, follow-up period. Both groups showed marked and significant improvements at 3 months in memory and cognitive performance (MFQ, DSST, TMT-A/B; p's ≤0.04). At 6 months, overall gains were maintained or improved (p's ≤ 0.006), with effect sizes ranging from medium (DSST, ML group) to large (DSST, KK group; TMT-A/B, MFQ). Changes were unrelated to treatment expectancies and did not differ by age, gender, baseline cognition scores, or other factors. Conclusions: Findings of this preliminary randomized controlled trial suggest practice of meditation or ML can significantly enhance both subjective memory function and objective cognitive performance in adults with SCD, and may offer promise for improving outcomes in this population.
... Early diagnosis of PD is conducive to the prevention of disease progression. As such, PET can measure the dopaminergic system containing [18F] fluorodopa to assess presynaptic dopaminergic function (Newberg et al. 2014). Furthermore, PD-related biomarkers, such as α-syn, abnormal DA, and mitochondrial dysfunction, can help to identify individuals at high risk, but highly sensitive detection of these processes remains challenging with current techniques (Zhang et al. 2018). ...
Article
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Obtaining sufficient biocompatibility and targeting efficiency represent some of the greatest challenges for the development of diagnostic and therapeutic drugs aimed at ameliorating neurological diseases, especially neurodegenerative diseases and brain tumors. In this regard, the blood–brain barrier makes it particularly difficult to enable early diagnosis and treatment of these diseases. As a promising solution to these challenges, nanodiamonds (NDs) are an emerging class of carbon-based nanomaterials that display chemical inertness, good biocompatibility, prolonged photostability, negligible toxicity, and alternative surface functionalization. Owing to these unique physical and chemical properties, NDs have great potential for the diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases. In this review, we explore the existing shortcomings and advantages of detection and treatment techniques for representative neurological diseases, with a focus on the use of NDs. We also discuss the potential mechanisms of NDs in the context of nano-enzymes and antiaging. Finally, we present an innovative strategy that eliminates aging cells via NDs for the potential diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases.
... Many studies have now shown that plasticity is retained throughout the lifespan from infancy to very old age (Merzenich et al., 1991;Merzenich and DeCharms, 1996;Greenwood and Parasuraman, 2010;May, 2011;Bavelier et al., 2012). Enriching life experiences, including literacy, prolonged engagement in the arts, sciences and music, meditation and aerobic physical activities have all been shown to engender positive neuroplasticity that boosts cognitive function and/or prevents cognitive loss (Vance et al., 2010;Hayes et al., 2013;Matta Mello Portugal et al., 2013;Newberg et al., 2013;Zatorre, 2013). Unfortunately, just as enriching experiences generate positive plasticity, negative plasticity ensues in impoverished settings. ...
Article
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Neuroplasticity is the remarkable ability of the brain that allows us to learn and adapt to our environment. Many studies have now shown that plasticity is retained throughout the lifespan from infancy to very old age (Merzenich et al., 1991; Merzenich and DeCharms, 1996; Greenwood and Parasuraman, 2010; May, 2011; Bavelier et al., 2012). Enriching life experiences, including literacy, prolonged engagement in the arts, sciences and music, meditation and aerobic physical activities have all been shown to engender positive neuroplasticity that boosts cognitive function and/or prevents cognitive loss (Vance et al., 2010; Hayes et al., 2013; Matta Mello Portugal et al., 2013; Newberg et al., 2013; Zatorre, 2013). Unfortunately, just as enriching experiences generate positive plasticity, negative plasticity ensues in impoverished settings. For instance, many studies now show that low socio-economic, resource-poor environments, which are associated with stress, violence and abuse within families and communities, have detrimental effects on cognition and neural function (D'Angiulli et al., 2012; McEwen and Morrison, 2013). As cognitive neuroscientists we observe both positive and negative aspects of plasticity in neural systems, in functional changes of neural activations, neural oscillations and strength of connectivity between brain regions, in structural changes in gray matter volume and white matter integrity, and importantly in the relationship between such neuroplastic changes and concomitant cognitive/behavioral changes. As we come to understand various facets of plasticity, it drives further the quest to develop new activities/interventions that engender maximal positive plasticity in selectively targeted neural systems; we envision such activities will in turn generate “far transfer of benefit” to generalized cognition and thereby improve the human condition.
... Meditation techniques are considered to be specific cognitively stimulating activities. Newberg et al. suggests that the application of meditation techniques in patients with neurodegenerative diseases has a positive impact on memory, and attention (65). One recent pilot study demonstrated that in adults most susceptible to the development of dementia, meditation may reduce hippocampal atrophy and improve functional connectivity in the same areas of the brain most affected by the disease process (66). ...
Article
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Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the leading cause of dementia, and the most prevalent neurodegenerative disease in the elderly. The prevalence of AD is predicted to rise as life expectancy grows across populations. The exact cause of this devastating disease is still unknown; however, it is an aging-related multi-factorial disorder, and growing evidence supports the contribution of modifiable environmental factors to unmodifiable factors such as gene and ageing itself. The recent advancement of methodologies and techniques for early diagnosis of AD facilitates the investigation of strategies to reduce the risk for AD progression in the earliest stages of the disease. Pharmacological attempts at curing, halting or modifying it have, by and large, been unsuccessful, and no breakthrough is seen in the near future. However, a lot of elements that seem to contribute to the disease such as risk factors have been identified, mainly from epidemiological and basic research studies. Many of these are amenable to lifestyle modification. Therefore, prevention in the preclinical stage is likely the most effective way to decrease the incidence of this age-associated dreadful neurodegenerative condition, and its associated burden for individuals and society. We provide an overview of modifiable risk factors for AD along with the supporting evidence.
... Meditation might be a possible candidate in the quest for such a positive approach as there is ample evidence for its beneficial effects for a number of cognitive domains, including attention, memory, verbal fluency, executive function, processing speed, overall cognitive flexibility as well as conflict monitoring and even creativity (Lutz et al., 2008(Lutz et al., , 2009Colzato et al., 2012;Gard et al., 2014;Lippelt et al., 2014;Marciniak et al., 2014;Newberg et al., 2014). This wealth of cognitive studies did not only further support the idea that the human brain (and mind) is plastic throughout life but also lead to a number of relevant concepts and theories, such as that meditation is associated with an increasing control over the distribution of limited brain resources (Slagter et al., 2007) as well as with process-specific learning, rather than purely stimulus-or task-specific learning (Slagter et al., 2011). ...
Article
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While overall life expectancy has been increasing, the human brain still begins deteriorating after the first two decades of life and continues degrading further with increasing age. Thus, techniques that diminish the negative impact of aging on the brain are desirable. Existing research, although scarce, suggests meditation to be an attractive candidate in the quest for an accessible and inexpensive, efficacious remedy. Here, we examined the link between age and cerebral gray matter re-analyzing a large sample (n = 100) of long-term meditators and control subjects aged between 24 and 77 years. When correlating global and local gray matter with age, we detected negative correlations within both controls and meditators, suggesting a decline over time. However, the slopes of the regression lines were steeper and the correlation coefficients were stronger in controls than in meditators. Moreover, the age-affected brain regions were much more extended in controls than in meditators, with significant group-by-age interactions in numerous clusters throughout the brain. Altogether, these findings seem to suggest less age-related gray matter atrophy in long-term meditation practitioners.
... Moreover, while cross-sectional analyses are an excellent starting point for exposing links between meditation and brain structure, longitudinal studies with biological sex as a moderator variable will be necessary to determine the relative (and perhaps sex-specific) contribution of nature and nurture to altered brain dimensions in male and female meditators. Altogether, this will not only add to a growing body of literature suggesting a sexdivergent brain organization, but also broaden our horizons concerning sex-specific links between meditation and cerebral features as well as cognitive and behavioral parameters-perhaps even clinical outcome measures when taking meditation or mindfulness practices into patient populations (Sequeira and Ahmed, 2012;Clayton and Collins, 2014;Newberg et al., 2014). ...
Article
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On average, the human hippocampus shows structural differences between meditators and non-meditators as well as between men and women. However, there is a lack of research exploring possible sex effects on hippocampal anatomy in the framework of meditation. Thus, we obtained high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging data from 30 long-term meditation practitioners (15 men/15 women) and 30 well-matched control subjects (15 men/15 women) to assess if hippocampus-specific effects manifest differently in male and female brains. Hippocampal dimensions were enlarged both in male and in female meditators when compared to sex- and age-matched controls. However, meditation effects differed between men and women in magnitude, laterality, and location on the hippocampal surface. Such sex-divergent findings may be due to genetic (innate) or acquired differences between male and female brains in the areas involved in meditation and/or suggest that male and female hippocampi are differently receptive to mindfulness practices.
... It is shown in many studies that long-term meditation practices have provided positive effect on the cognitive and perceptional aspects of brain activity456789. Recent research has shown interesting findings how meditation reduces aging process and enhances gray matter in the brain and brain activity itself101112131415161718. Another recent study with large sample size (n = 100) presents the potential protective effect of long-term meditation on gray matter atrophy and concludes that meditation is brain protective and reduces deterioration of age-related changes in brain tissues [9]. ...
Article
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Background: Mindfulness along with breathing is a well-established meditation technique. Breathing is an exquisite tool for exploring subtle awareness of mind and life itself. Aim: This study aimed at measuring changes in the different parameters of electrophotonic imaging (EPI) in anapanasati meditators. Materials and Methods : To carry out this study, 51 subjects comprising 32 males and 19 females of age 18 years and above (mean age 45.64 ± 14.43) were recruited voluntarily with informed consent attending Karnataka Dhyana Mahachakra-1 at Pyramid Valley International, Bengaluru, India. The design was a single group pre- post and data collected by EPI device before and after 5 days of intensive meditation. Results: Results show significant changes in EPI parameter integral area with filter (physiological) in both right and left side, which reflects the availability of high functional energy reserve in meditators. The researchers observed similar trends without filter (psycho-physiological) indicating high reserves of energy at psycho-physiological level also. Activation coefficient, another parameter of EPI, reduced showing more relaxed state than earlier, possibly due to parasympathetic dominance. Integral entropy decreased in the case of psycho-physiological parameters left-side without filter, which indicates less disorder after meditation, but these changes were not significant. The study showed a reversed change in integral entropy in the right side without filter; however, the values on both sides with filter increased, which indicates disorder. Conclusion: The study suggests that EPI can be used in the recording functional physiological and psychophysiological status of meditators at a subtle level.
... Not only are these techniques easily accessible and low in cost, but also there have been growing research findings to suggest a role in strengthening coping skills and improving cognition, memory, and attention in general. 18 Patients with PD also commonly report that meditation has helped motor symptoms, especially tremor, as well as mood, anxiety, and quality of life. To date, however, formal assessments of potential benefits have not been published. ...
Article
Background Nearly half of all patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) utilize some form of complementary therapy often identified on the Internet and frequently not reported to their physicians. Treating physicians are sometimes unaware of such treatments, including their rationale, mechanisms, potential efficacy, and potential adverse effects.Methods Methods for this study included systematic Internet search of products recommended for PD, medical literature review to determine scientific rationale, any evidence of efficacy, and potential risks.ResultsA large number of complementary therapies are recommended for patients with PD, generally falling into the following categories: dietary and nutritional; chelation; and physical. Most have reasonable justifications based on mechanism of action and current theories on causes of neurodegeneration in PD, but few have documented evidence of benefit. Fortunately, most have few risks and side effects, although some are very expensive. The protein redistribution diet has substantial evidence of symptomatic benefit. Some antioxidative or -inflammatory supplements, aerobic exercise, Tai chi, and dance and music therapy have preliminary evidence of symptomatic benefit or potential neuroprotective effects, but more research is needed to establish efficacy.Conclusions Patients with PD are faced with many recommendations for complementary therapies. Physicians should know about these in order to have informed discussions with their patients. Some deserve further study.
... It is shown in many studies that long-term meditation practices have provided positive effect on the cognitive and perceptional aspects of brain activity [4][5][6][7][8][9]. Recent research has shown interesting findings how meditation reduces aging process and enhances gray matter in the brain and brain activity itself [10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18]. Another recent study with large sample size (n = 100) presents the potential protective effect of long-term meditation on gray matter atrophy and concludes that meditation is brain protective and reduces deterioration of age-related changes in brain tissues [9]. ...
Article
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Background: Anapanasati is one of the meditation techniques discussed in Buddhism. In this meditation, one focuses one's attention on bodily sensations caused by incoming and outgoing breath. This study aims to track the cumulative effect of long-term meditators (LTM) and short-term meditators (STM) using electrophotonic imaging (EPI). Methods: To execute the current study, 432 subjects (264 men and 168 women with mean age of 34.36±$$\pm$$6.83) were recruited from two meditation centers. LTM had practiced for more than 60 months (mean of months 111±47·20,hoursperday1·71±1·20)$$\pm 47. 20\, {\rm{hours per day}} \,\,1. 71 \pm 1. 20)$$. STM had practiced meditation from 6 months to less than 60 months (mean of months 37.17±19·44,hoursperday 2·14±4·99)$$\pm 19. 44\, \,\,{\rm{hours per day}}\,\,{\rm{}}2. 14 \pm 4. 99)$$. A cross-sectional research design was applied and data was collected using EPI. Scatter plot and Fisher discriminant model were also used for statistical presentation of values and interdependency of variables with length of practice between groups. Results: In both LTM and STM, lower values of stress (activation coefficient) were found in woman meditators as compared to men. In both groups, highly significant gender-related differences were observed in integral area parameter, which measures the overall health of an individual. Integral entropy (index of disorderliness of subtle energy in the body) was fluctuating in both groups in both directions for both genders. It was increasing in LTM group and decreasing in STM group with increasing length of practice. Conclusions: Women of LTM and STM demonstrated lesser stress than men. Both groups showed cumulative health-related improvement. Moreover, in gender-related analysis woman meditators exhibited more positive improvement in EPI parameters than men.
... Similarly, humans exposed to traumatic experiences who go on to develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been found to have reduced hippocampal volume (O'Doherty, Chitty, Saddiqui, Bennett & Lagopoulos, 2015) and other adverse neuroplastic consequences (Deppermann, Storchak, Fallgatter & Ehlis, 2014; Kolassa & Elbert, 2007). Maintaining emotional health (e.g., keeping a positive mood and reducing stress; Duman, 2004; Duman & Monteggia, 2006; Pittenger & Duman, 2008), getting adequate sleep (Hobson & Pace-Schott, 2002; Maquet, 2001; Walker & Stickgold, 2004), engaging in meditation practices (Chan et al., 2005; Davidson & Lutz, 2008; Newberg et al., 2014), and avoiding substance abuse (Kalivas & O'Brien, 2008; Koob & Le Moal, 2005), among other factors, also portend healthy neuroplasticity and memory functioning, but are outside the scope of this chapter. See Merrill and Small (2011) for a review of the effects of lifestyle factors on cognition. ...
Chapter
The role of neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to modify neural processes as a result of environmental changes, is crucial to normal memory functioning. Furthermore, this capacity of the central nervous system to adapt is essential for healthy aging and for recovery following trauma or disease states. In this chapter, we identify the synaptic and structural mechanisms that drive plasticity, as well as describe the purported processes responsible for short- and long-term memory. We then review the literature regarding the role of neuroplasticity in the aging brain and in recovery following various types of injury (e.g., traumatic brain injury and stroke). Particular focus is placed on the implications of lifestyle factors, such as diet, exercise, and environmental enrichment, and formal cognitive training or rehabilitation strategies as potential methods for facilitating neuroplasticity and maintaining healthy memory functioning.
... Early intervention with mindfulness training is therefore a feasible and efficacious non-pharmacological therapeutic intervention option that may improve the cognitive function of persons with MCI and prevent progression to AD. Indeed, there is already growing evidence to suggest that meditation may be a potentially useful and affordable treatment approach for enhancing cognition and memory in patients with neurodegenerative diseases (Newberg et al., 2014). The positive effects of meditation on cognition and dementia risk reduction may be achieved holistically through multiple pathways such as producing neuroprotective effects from less stress-induced cortisol secretion with higher brainderived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels; enhancing lipid profiles and reducing oxidative stress, thereby reducing risk for cerebrovascular/age-related neurodegenerative diseases; and reinforcing neuronal circuits and boosting cognitive reserve (Xiong and Doraiswamy, 2009). ...
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Introduction: Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) not only negatively impacts upon a person's life, but it is also seen as an intermediate stage on the progression to Alzheimer's Disease (AD), and therefore warrants early intervention. However, there is currently no effective pharmacological treatment approved for MCI. There is a paucity of evidence that non-pharmacological interventions such as cognitive training could result in improvements in the daily activities functioning of persons with MCI. Growing evidence has shown that mindfulness meditation increases gray matter volume and concentration in brain regions such as the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, strengthens brain functional connectivity, and enhances psychological well-being which could be beneficial to counteract the memory and cognitive decline of MCI. Aims: We aim to quantitatively investigate whether mindfulness practice can improve the cognitive function, psychological health, mindfulness and functional abilities in activities of daily living of the MCI participants over time; the relationship between the amount of mindfulness practice and degree of improvement in these health outcomes; and the differential effects and interactions of both formal and informal mindfulness practices. We will also qualitatively address the issues about the MCI participants' and familiar support persons' engagement with the program, the nature of group interactions, their program experience, their perceived effects and expectations of mindfulness practice, and the challenges encountered in practicing mindfulness. Methods: Our study is one of the first mixed-methods longitudinal studies with a 1-year follow-up using a pre- and post-intervention design. It involves the MCI participants and their familiar support person in a customized 8-week group-based mindfulness training program. The outcome measures will use the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, Depression Anxiety Stress Scales, Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory and Bayer Activities of Daily Living Scale. The qualitative methods will include participant observation during the program and semi-structured interviews at post-intervention and 1-year follow-up. Significance: This customized MCI group mindfulness training program presents as a promising and feasible non-pharmacological therapeutic intervention option for MCI and a possible preventive strategy for Alzheimer's disease. This study has been registered in the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR) (URL: https://www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?id=366695) and allocated the ACTRN: ACTRN12614000820606.
... La aplicación de Mindfulness en el tratamiento adyuvante para pacientes con demencias, ha sido objeto de importantes investigaciones que apoyan la aplicación de estas técnicas de meditación para ayudar a mejorar la cognición y la memoria en pacientes con enfermedades neurodegenerativas ( Newberg et al., 2014). ...
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Los últimos datos aportados por la Comisión Europea señalan que la demencia afecta actualmente a casi cincuenta millones de personas en todo el mundo y que cada año se detectan 7.7 millones de nuevos casos. A día de hoy, el Alzheimer es la demencia más padecida por la población mundial pudiendo constituir en términos relativos el 70% de las demencias. En la actualidad no existen tratamientos farmacológicos que den una respuesta definitiva a este tipo de patologías. Las utilizaciones de terapias no farmacológicas abren un amplio abanico de posibilidades desde el ámbito de la prevención, y de la mejora de la calidad de vida en cuidadores y familiares de enfermos con demencia, básicamente con sintomatología de “sobrecarga”. En este articulo hacemos una revisión sobre investigaciones relacionadas con la “atención plena” ( MF) y de su implementación como estrategias potenciales en el abordaje de este tipo de patologías. Los últimos trabajos aportados con técnicas morfométricas por neuroimagen constituyen un importante avance a la hora de intentar aportar evidencia científica en este campo.
... It includes studies on the effect of meditation on well-being of caregivers (Waelde et al., 2004;Lavretsky et al., 2013) as well as on patients suffering from dementia. As Newberg et al. (2013) summarized, current knowledge about meditation, memory, and attention supports the application of meditation techniques in patients with neurodegenerative diseases. Below are presented concrete studies investigating the effect of meditation on cognition on a sample of patients with neurodegenerative diseases. ...
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Effect of different meditation practices on various aspects of mental and physical health is receiving growing attention. The present paper reviews evidence on the effects of several mediation practices on cognitive functions in the context of aging and neurodegenerative diseases. The effect of meditation in this area is still poorly explored. Seven studies were detected through the databases search, which explores the effect of meditation on attention, memory, executive functions, and other miscellaneous measures of cognition in a sample of older people and people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases. Overall, reviewed studies suggested a positive effect of meditation techniques, particularly in the area of attention, as well as memory, verbal fluency, and cognitive flexibility. These findings are discussed in the context of MRI studies suggesting structural correlates of the effects. Meditation can be a potentially suitable non-pharmacological intervention aimed at the prevention of cognitive decline in the elderly. However, the conclusions of these studies are limited by their methodological flaws and differences of various types of meditation techniques. Further research in this direction could help to verify the validity of the findings and clarify the problematic aspects.
... There have been many studies on the effects of mindfulness practices on executive function abilities (e.g., Allen et al., 2012;Heeren et al., 2009;Moore & Malinowski, 2009;Tang et al., 2007; for review see Chiesa, Calati, & Serretti, 2011;Gallant, 2016;Marciniak et al., 2014;Morrison & Jha, 2015;Raffone & Srinivasan, 2017). The topic is also attracting a growing number of scholars investigating cognitive declines in aging and neurodegenerative diseases (for review see Marciniak et al., 2014;Newberg et al., 2014). According to these studies, mindfulness practices can improve and protect executive function abilities, on the one hand, and alter the activity and structure of the PFC, on the other. ...
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By a systematic analysis of the current literature, we compare two states of sleep and meditation in terms of their role in the formation or suppression of Deese–Roediger–McDermott (DRM) false memory. We aim to suggest that the occurrence of false memory under these two states is a result of reinforcing some abilities and changes in cognitive systems which can ultimately improve some aspects of cognitive functions. In our analogy, we propose that: (1) both sleep and meditation may improve source monitoring ability whose failure is one of the most important mechanisms in producing false memories, and (2) despite improvement in source monitoring ability, adaptive cognitive processes, as mechanisms which are common in sleep and meditation, can still produce false memories. In conclusion, we propose that in spite of their contribution to false memory through adaptive processes, the beneficial role of sleep and meditation in cognition may be more prominent than their harmful role.
... Meditation involves various emotional and attentional regulatory strategies to achieve cognitive wellbeing and emotional balance (Lutz, Dunne, & Davidson, 2006). There is a growing body of literature to suggest that meditation may benefit the cognitive functions in older adults and those with neurodegenerative diseases (Newberg et al., 2014), possibly through enhancements of brain regions related to interoception and attention (Hölzel et al., 2008). ...
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Background and objectives: Meditation and mind-body exercises are suggested to delay decline or enhance cognitive capabilities in older adults. However, their effectiveness remains uncertain. This study assessed the effectiveness of meditation and mind-body exercises to improve cognition in elderly people aged 60 years or above. Moderator variables were also explored. Research design and methods: A databases search (MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, CNKI, and Wangfang) was conducted from the first available date to January 10, 2018. Inclusion criteria include (a) human older adults aged 60 years or above, (b) meditation, Tai Chi, Qigong, or yoga intervention, (c) intervention should be structured, (d) inclusion of a control group, (e) at least one outcome measure of cognition was measured at baseline and post-training, and (f) peer-reviewed journal articles in English or Chinese. Results: Forty-one studies (N = 3,551) were included in the meta-analysis. In general, meditation and mind-body exercises improve cognition in the elderly people (SMD = 0.34, 95% CI: 0.19 to 0.48), but the cognition-enhancing effects depend on the type of exercise. In addition, cognitive performance is only improved when the length of intervention is longer than 12 weeks, exercise frequency is 3-7 times/week, or duration of an exercise session is 45-60 min/session. Discussion and implications: This study suggests that meditation and mind-body exercises are effective to improve cognition of older adults aged 60 years or above, and exercise parameters should be considered for intervention planning.
... For future scientific research, it would be helpful to categorize meditation types depending on the neural networks, brain chemistry, anatomical and EEG changes involved. For example, although KK involves multiple aspects such as breath, finger-tip movements, and singing, i.e., mantra, it belongs to the focused attention meditation practices similar to transcendental meditation or Yogic meditations, while mindfulness or Vipassana meditation belong to the open awareness practices [148]. Each of these types of meditation rely on different neuronal networks, brain anatomical changes, biochemistry, and brain wave changes. ...
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Background: Religious and spiritual interventions may have an effect on Alzheimer's disease prevention. Kirtan Kriya meditation has been shown to mitigate the deleterious effects of chronic stress on cognition, reverse memory loss, and create psychological and spiritual wellbeing, which may reduce multiple drivers of Alzheimer's disease risk. Objective: To detail a new concept in medicine called Spiritual Fitness, a merging of stress reduction, basic wellbeing, and psycho/spiritual wellbeing to prevent Alzheimer's disease. Methods: The literature on the topics mentioned above is described, including an in-depth discussion on why and how each are critical to advancing the future of Alzheimer's disease prevention. The many negative effects of chronic stress, and the benefits of Kirtan Kriya, are reviewed. The four pillars of basic wellbeing, six practical aspects of psychological wellbeing, and the four new non-sectarian features of spiritual fitness are then disclosed. Moreover, instructions on practicing Kirtan Kriya are offered in the Supplementary Material. Conclusion: Religious and spiritual practices, including Kirtan Kriya, are crucial components in the development of enhanced cognition and well-being, which may help prevent and, in some cases, reverse cognitive decline. The key point of this review is that making a commitment to live a brain longevity lifestyle including spiritual fitness is critically important way for aging Alzheimer's disease free. We hope that this article will inspire scientists, clinicians, and patients to embrace this new concept of spiritual fitness and make it part of every multidomain program for the prevention of cognitive disability.
... Feasibility and acceptability were obtained because there was a high degree of engagement while watching the video, which is considered important in a mindfulness environment. The use of mindfulness art therapies has been found 10,[18][19][20][21] to activate memory processes and improve mood and anxiety levels in adults with MS. Although we did not evaluate the impact of MBAT on symptoms in adults with MS, our pilot results support a future randomized controlled trial. ...
Article
Background: Mindfulness-based art therapy (MBAT) has been shown to provide a strategy for adults with multiple sclerosis (MS) to self-manage their symptoms. There is a need for the use of an MBAT intervention that can be delivered in any setting for adults with MS. The purpose of this pilot feasibility study was to test the feasibility and acceptability of an MBAT intervention delivered via videoconference. Methods: We developed an MBAT intervention to be delivered by videoconference to adults with MS recruited from an academic center registry. We also conducted phone interviews to collect acceptability data. Results: Most of the participants (n = 5) were very positive about the MBAT video sessions and stated content as clear and easy to follow and understand. The time and delivering method were acceptable. Conclusion: Mindfulness-based art therapy sessions delivered through videoconference are acceptable and feasible for adults with MS.
... 24 Different meditation techniques have also been studied in patients with AD dementia, identifying significant effects or trends in many areas, including decreased cognitive decline, a reduction in perceived stress, improvement of the quality of life, as well as increased functional connectivity, cerebral blood flow and brain volume changes in specific cortical areas. [25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32] Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) developed at the University of Massachusetts 33 is an 8-week program originally inspired by Buddhist teachings with the use of mindfulness meditation, body awareness and yoga. Mindfulness is defined as awareness developed through one's intentionally focused non-judgmental attention on the present moment, which can be achieved through a variety of meditative practices. ...
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Background: Mindfulness-based programs have shown a promising effect on several health factors associated with increased risk of dementia and the conversion from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to dementia such as depression, stress, cognitive decline, immune system and brain structural and functional changes. Studies on mindfulness in MCI subjects are sparse and frequently lack control intervention groups. Objective: To determine the feasibility and the effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) practice on depression, cognition and immunity in MCI compared to cognitive training. Methods: Twenty-eight MCI subjects were randomly assigned to two groups. MBSR group underwent 8-week MBSR program. Control group underwent 8-week cognitive training. Their cognitive and immunological profiles and level of depressive symptoms were examined at baseline, after each 8-week intervention (visit 2, V2) and six months after each intervention (visit 3, V3). MBSR participants completed feasibility questionnaire at V2. Results: Twenty MCI patients completed the study (MBSR group n=12, control group n=8). MBSR group showed significant reduction in depressive symptoms at both V2 (p=0.03) and V3 (p=0.0461) compared to the baseline. There was a minimal effect on cognition - a group comparison analysis showed better psychomotor speed in the MBSR group compared to the control group at V2 (p=0.0493) but not at V3. There was a detectable change in immunological profiles in both groups, more pronounced in the MBSR group. Participants checked only positive/neutral answers concerning the attractivity/length of MBSR intervention. More severe cognitive decline (PVLT≤36) was associated with the lower adherence to home practice. Conclusion: MBSR is well-accepted potentially promising intervention with positive effect on cognition, depressive symptoms and immunological profile.
... There is a growing body of literature indicating that meditation practices may be especially beneficial for aging adults boasting positive impact on social, emotional as well as cognitive outcomes in this population (Marciniak et al., 2014). Specifically, research indicates that meditation practices may improve cognitive outcomes of attention and memory in aging individuals suffering from cognitive impairment (Newberg et al., 2014). One compelling hypothesis is that meditation may improve cognitive outcomes through increased cerebral blood flow (Khalsa et al., 2009;Moss et al., 2012). ...
Article
Introduction Life expectancy in the US is 78.6 years, and although people are living longer, they are also living with chronic diseases. As women age, they are more susceptible to chronic disease including mental health conditions and Alzheimer's Disease (AD) dementia. Therefore, practical and cost effective ways to prevent the onset of cognitive, mental and physical ailments and increase the quality of life among aging populations is timely and warranted. The purpose of this study in aging adult women was to explore if prayer is associated with electrical brain activity patterns consistent with meditation and therefore a likely pro-health behavior. Materials and methods A sample of 33 healthy women (Mage = 80.1, SD = 8.3) were recruited from a Midwestern Catholic Sisters community. Participants completed 6 consecutive, counterbalanced electroencephalogram (EEG) sessions: three resting sessions and three praying sessions equating to 18 min of recorded EEG data for each participant. Differences in alpha power and frontal alpha asymmetry (FAA) between praying and resting conditions and the influence of age on the association between inter-individual differences in alpha power were explored. Results Results indicated significant higher alpha power detected in electrodes positioned in the occipital area for praying sessions compared to resting sessions. Additionally, we found significant positive correlations between FAA values and age of the participants for both conditions (rest: r = 0.436, p = 0.016; pray: r = 0.434, p = 0.017), indicating more approach-related brain activity in older participants. Conclusions Taken collectively, our results suggest that prayerful meditation increased alpha power and that positive and approach-related (left frontal-central) brain activity increased as Sisters aged. Future studies should explore the mediating role of age as it related to meditation and cognitive outcomes.
... The brain activity deterioration begins from the hippocampus in the medial temporal lobe, which is mainly related to memory and emotion. The deterioration then escalates, and the whole brain glucose metabolism is also affected, resulting in a reduction in neuronal processing of bilateral parietal and temporal lobes [14]. The parietal lobe is responsible for sensation, self-awareness, attention, memory retrieval, and theory of mind [15][16][17]. ...
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Alzheimer's disease (AD), the 'Plague of Twenty-First Century,' is a crippling neurodegenerative disease that affects a majority of the older population globally. By 2050, the incidence of AD is expected to rise to 135 million, while no treatment(s) that can reverse or control the progression of AD are currently available. The treatment(s) in use are limited in their ability to manage the symptoms or slow the progression of the disease and can lead to some severe side effects. The overall care is economically burdensome for the affected individuals as well as the caretakers or family members. Thus, there is a pressing need to identify and develop much safer alternative therapies that can better manage AD. This review discusses a multitude of such treatments borrowed from Ayurveda, traditional Chinese practices, meditation, and exercising for AD treatment. These therapies are in practice since ancient times and reported to be beneficial as anti-AD therapies. Ayurvedic drugs like turmeric, Brahmi, Ashwagandha, etc., management of stress by meditation, regular exercising, and acupuncture have been reported to be efficient in their anti-AD usage. Besides, a combination of vitamins and natural dietary intakes is likely to play a significant role in combating AD. We conclude that the use of such alternative strategies will be a stepping-stone in preventing, treating, curing, or managing the disease.
... Neurodegenerative diseases are significant problems at both individual and population levels. The pathologies of neurodegenerative diseases are very complicated, therefore, their prevention and treatment are extremely challenging and currently few treatment options are available [55]. Specific drugs such as L-dopa for PD, donepezil, memantine for AD, riluzole for ALS, are available in order to minimize the symptoms [56]. ...
... Studies conducted by researchers suggest that meditation helps in restoring the grey matter [33]. It has potential neurological benefits such as increasing grey matter volume along with remarkable improvements in assorted regions of the brain [34]. Apart from that, meditation with regular exercise helps in facilitating long-term benefits such as reducing stress, frustration & anxiety among PD patients. ...
... Such interventions might be beneficial to improve mental health and well-being in the aging population and reduce AD risks. Promising evidence exists that mindfulness meditation improves cognition in young adults (mainly attention, metacognition and memory, which are cognitive processes sensitive to aging and AD) [11][12][13], and reduces stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia [14][15][16][17] and cardiovascular risk factors [18,19]. Moreover, meditation has also been associated with brain structural and functional changes that persist beyond the time of actual practice and mainly impact frontal and limbic networks [20][21][22][23]. ...
Article
Introduction The Age-Well observational, cross-sectional study investigates the affective and cognitive mechanisms of meditation expertise with behavioral, neuroimaging, sleep, and biological measures sensitive to aging and Alzheimer's disease (AD). Methods Thirty cognitively unimpaired individuals aged 65 years or older with at least 10,000 hours of practice in mindfulness meditation (MM) and loving-kindness and compassion meditation (LKCM) are selected. The outcomes are the neuroimaging brain correlates of MM and LKCM and the assessments of long-term meditation practices on behavioral, neural, and biological measures as compared to nonmeditator older controls from the Age-Well randomized controlled trial. Results Recruitment and data collection began in late 2016 and will be completed by late 2019. Discussion Results are expected to foster the understanding of the effects of meditation expertise on aging and of the mechanisms of action underlying the meditation intervention in the Age-Well randomized controlled trial. These finding will contribute to the design of meditation-based prevention randomized controlled trials for the aged population and to the exploration of the possible long-time developmental trajectory of meditation training.
Article
Objective Neurodegenerative diseases, such as ischemia, traumatic injury, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease are characterized by neuronal loss and dysfunction. It is known that glutamate-induced toxicity plays an important role in neurodegenerative diseases. Glutamate toxicity seems to be mediated by excessive influx of Ca²⁺ into neuronal cells through activation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor. To search for potential NMDA receptor inhibitors in traditional Chinese medicine. Methods A series of computer methods including drug-likeness evaluation, ADMET tests as well as molecular docking have been used. Results 1,5-O-dicaffeoyl-quinic acid was identified as NMDA receptor inhibitor by virtual screening. Its neuroprotective activity was further confirmed by in vitro test. 1,5-O-dicaffeoyl-quinic acid showed strong neuroprotection against NMDA-induced cell injury. Conclusion 1,5-O-Dicaffeoylquinic acid may be regarded as a potential NMDA receptor inhibitor for the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.
Article
Zusammenfassung. In den letzten Jahrzehnten fand die Achtsamkeitspraxis Eingang in die klinische Psychologie und Medizin. Da Achtsamkeit eine besondere Form der Aufmerksamkeit ist, wurde in diesen Fachdisziplinen auch untersucht, inwieweit sich Aufmerksamkeitsfunktionen im Besonderen und kognitive Funktionen im Allgemeinen durch Achtsamkeitstraining verbessern. Es ist das Ziel dieses Reviews einen Überblick zu den Effekten von Achtsamkeit auf kognitive Funktionen und das Gehirn zu geben und der Frage nachzugehen, inwieweit achtsamkeitsbasierte Therapie eine sinnvolle Behandlungsoption für kognitive Beeinträchtigungen neurologischer und psychiatrischer Patienten darstellt. Wir kommen zu dem Schluss, dass erste Studien ermutigende Resultate insbesondere für Aufmerksamkeitsfunktionen und das Arbeitsgedächtnis zeigen und damit assoziierten Hirnstrukturen und -funktionen. Zu fordern sind weitere Studien, in denen die Effektivität achtsamkeitsbasierter Therapieverfahren mit herkömmlichen neuropsychologischen Therapieverfahren verglichen wird.
Chapter
Aging, illness, loss, and death are part of life. Mindfulness offers an important perspective on these inevitable facts of life. Western medical innovations have extended the life trajectory, resulting in a greater prevalence of chronic diseases, often accompanied by pain. Mindfulness interventions have demonstrated effectiveness in ameliorating chronic conditions, cognitive decline and pain, and problems disproportionately impacting elders and often leading to emotional distress. Mindfulness interventions have also provided skills to alleviate the stress of caregiving, an essential component of the well-being of frail elders. In this chapter, we will describe the most common mental health problems for elders and caregivers, as well as adaptations of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) to provide relief.
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We all experience at least occasional lapses in attention but in some neurological conditions, loss of attention is pervasive and debilitating. Treating deficits in attention first requires an understanding of the neurobiology of attention, which we now understand to be a set of different cognitive processes. Cholinesterase inhibitors are already established as effective attentional enhancers used in the treatment of certain dementias. Other stimulant agents such as modafanil, amphetamine and methylphenidate have demonstrated limited success in healthy individuals where attention is already optimal and clinical trials in patients with neurological disease are sparse. Dietary and lifestyle changes are gaining increasing prominence, as are experimental treatments such as deep brain stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation. As the therapeutic arsenal widens, clinicians will be able to match specific treatments to selective deficits in attention, giving patients a tailored management plan. Here we review common diseases that impair attention and emphasise how an understanding of attentional processing within the brain might lead to improved therapeutic strategies.
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With increasing availability of integrative therapies and evidence to support their use alongside conventional medicine, clinicians in partnership with cancer survivors can assist in the development of a holistic plan of care. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health defines, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and integrative interventions and provides the public with research-based information to guide health care decision making. This article highlights the use of these modalities in the context of the aging cancer survivors, thus fostering various options for management of long-term adverse effects of cancer treatment.
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Background/objective: High levels of chronic stress negatively impact the hippocampus and are associated with increased incidence of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's disease. While mindfulness meditation may mitigate the effects of chronic stress, it is uncertain if adults with MCI have the capacity to learn mindfulness meditation. Methods: 14 adults with MCI were randomized 2:1 to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or a wait-list control group. We conducted qualitative interviews with those who completed MBSR. Transcribed interviews were: a) coded using an emergent themes inductive approach informed by grounded theory; b) rated 0-10, with higher scores reflecting greater perceived benefit from and understanding of mindfulness meditation. Ratings were correlated with daily home practice times and baseline level of cognitive function. Results: Seven themes emerged from the interviews: positive perceptions of class; development of mindfulness skills, including meta-cognition; importance of the group experience; enhanced well-being; shift in MCI perspective; decreased stress reactivity and increased relaxation; improvement in interpersonal skills. Ratings of perceived benefit and understanding ranged from 2-10 (mean = 7) and of 0-9.5 (mean = 6), respectively. Many participants experienced substantial benefit/understanding, some had moderate, and a few had minimal benefit/understanding. Understanding the key concepts of mindfulness was highly positively correlated with ≥20 minutes/day of home practice (r = 0.90) but not with baseline cognitive function (r = 0.13). Conclusions: Most adults with MCI were able to learn mindfulness meditation and had improved MCI acceptance, self-efficacy, and social engagement. Cognitive reserve may be enhanced through a mindfulness meditation program even in patients with MCI.
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Se analizan los resultados de un programa de terapia ocupacional basado en la técnicaMindfulness en una muestra de tercera edad escogida mediante un método probabilístico de conveniencia con medidas pre-test y pos-test, con un grupo experimental (n=10) y control (n=10). El objetivo es determinar si una terapia basada en atención plena puede producir mejoras cognitivas, sociales y emocionales en los diferentes sujetos. Tanto el grupo experimental como el control completaron las escalas PANAS, FFMQ, e IRI. Se obtuvieron mejoras estadísticamente significativas en el grupo experimental comparado con el grupo control, confirmándose así la efectividad de la técnica Mindfulness. Este es uno de los pocos estudios que examina los efectos de una intervención de Mindfulness en la tercera edad desde un abordaje de terapia ocupacional. Dada la importancia de los resultados se sugiere trabajar con muestras más significativas.
Chapter
Parkinson's disease (PD) is an old-age neurodegenerative motor disorder characterized by resting tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia, and postural instability due to degeneration of midbrain dopaminergic neurons that results in decrease in the level of neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) in the striatum. In the eighteenth century, James Parkinson first described the disease as “shaking palsy,” which was later named as PD. However, a description of equivalent parkinsonian symptoms is found in ancient Indian medical system of Ayurveda under the name Kampavata. As early as 300 BC, a coherent picture of parkinsonism was found in the Ayurvedic literature – Charaka Samhita, where head tremor (Sirakampa) and generalized tremor were described. Ayurvedic physicians used a cocktail of powdered seeds of Atmagupta (Mucuna pruriens) and Paraseekayavanee (Hyoscyamus reticulatus) with roots of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) and Bala (Sida cordifolia) in cow's milk to treat Kampavata. Presently, use of a DA precursor, 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (l-DOPA), is the choice of treatment to alleviate motor symptoms of PD. However, long-term l-DOPA treatment is associated with adverse side effects, such as motor fluctuations, dyskinesia, and drug-induced toxicity. A prospective clinical trial on the effectiveness of the Ayurvedic formulation in PD patients provided significant improvement of the symptoms, which has been attributed to the presence of l-DOPA and other neuroactive components in the formulations. Thus, the recent trend of therapeutic approaches in PD research has shifted to natural products or herbal formulations that would provide independent therapy or neuroprotective support to the existing drug, where Ayurveda will be of immense significance. In this chapter, we discuss the potentials of natural products used in Ayurvedic formulations as alternative/adjuvant to the DA replenishment therapy for PD and highlighted their molecular mechanisms of action.
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Mindfulness is increasingly implemented as a tool in mental health practice for coping and self-care. Some Christians worry that these practices might be in conflict with their own tradition, while other Christian contexts are reclaiming the contemplative aspects of the faith. Though clinicians are not trained to teach on religious topics and ethically must avoid pushing religion onto clients, conceptualization and research extend the benefits of mindfulness practices for religious clients. This paper will discuss the evidence for using mindfulness in mental health treatment and connect mindfulness to the Christian tradition. The authors explore how intentional awareness and embodiment of the present moment are supported in Christian theology through the incarnation of Jesus and God’s attention of the physical body in the Christian scriptures. The authors also discuss how sacraments and prayer naturally overlap with mindfulness practices for the dual purposes of emotional healing and spiritual growth. To bolster the benefits of mindfulness in the psychological and religious realms, the purpose of this paper is to empower therapists to address client concerns of whether mindfulness is in conflict with Christianity, support clients in expanding current Christian religious coping, and provide Christian leaders with more information about how mindfulness elements are already present in Christian rituals and beliefs.
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Mindfulness-based stimulation in advanced Alzheimer's disease: a comparative, non-inferiority, clinical pilot study. Abstract Introduction A longitudinal study was conducted in order to analyze the viability, security and effects of the practice of mindfulness, relaxation and cognitive stimulation on the evolution of Alzheimer's disease with the aim of testing the equivalence of these interventions. Method There were a total of 168 participants with probable Alzheimer's disease (AD) treated with donepezil. In the present article, we present the 21 participants with advanced AD who completed a follow-up period of 24 months. The participants were grouped in three experimental groups (mindfulness, relaxation and cognitive stimulation) and one control group. Each group carried out three weekly sessions with biannual follow-up measures (cognition: CAMCOG and MMSE; functionality: RDRS; psychopathology: NPI). Nonparametric analysis were performed. Results The scores of cognitive function and functionality showed no significant differences between the groups. However, the scores in cognitive function of the mindfulness group and the cognitive stimulation group did not decrease in an intragroup analysis. In NPI, there were significant differences between the mindfulness group and the control group by the end of the study (p<0,017). Conclusion The data showed that the treatment of donepezil with mindfulness or cognitive stimulation presented a better clinical evolution than the pharmacological treatment on its own or combined with relaxation. These data suggest that we ought to continue to investigate these therapeutic alternatives and that the non-pharmacological treatments should be recommended in the clinical practice in order to control the evolution of AD in the long term. In order to confirm these findings, a larger study is necessary.
Conference Paper
Learning to meditate as an older adult can be difficult given the decreased ability to inhibit distractions in the elderly, and the important role of dealing with distractions in several types of meditation practice. Designing technologically assisted meditation practices in general is an area that is only beginning to be explored, and this is especially true for these kinds of technologies for older adults. In order to better design support for meditation practices for such a population we performed a qualitative study of 9 meditators aged 55+ in order to understand their specific needs, followed by a pilot study of a device which we designed in order to address these needs. Our analysis of these interviews yielded three themes. First was that there was an initial difficulty and discouraging experience when performing focused attention exercises which comprise a significant part of a beginner’s meditation practice. Second was a difficulty understanding when you are “doing it right” and how to make sense of teachings. Third was an openness to making use of new technologies and ways of supporting their meditation practice as long as the new support does not interfere with what they considered the core parts of meditation to be. We then use these results to outline design considerations for a neurofeedback application to address these needs.
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Introduction The Age-Well clinical trial is an ongoing monocentric, randomized, controlled trial aiming to assess an 18-month preventive meditation-based intervention directly targeting the attentional and emotional dimensions of aging to promote mental health and well-being in elderly people. Methods One hundred thirty-seven cognitively unimpaired older adults are randomized to either an 18-month meditation-based intervention, a structurally matched foreign language training, or a passive control arm. The impact of the intervention and underlying mechanisms are assessed with detailed cognitive, behavioral, biological, neuroimaging and sleep examinations. Results Recruitment began in late 2016 and ended in May 2018. The interventions are ongoing and will be completed by early 2020. Discussion This is the first trial addressing the emotional and cognitive dimension of aging with a long-term nonpharmacological approach and using comprehensive assessments to investigate the mechanisms. Results are expected to foster the development of preventive strategies reducing the negative impact of mental conditions and disorders.
Chapter
In recent years, the concepts of cognitive reserve (CR) and brain reserve (BR) have been used to take account of the interindividual variability between cognitive impairment and degree of brain damage occurring in a variety of neurological disorders. These studies, however, have typically not addressed the critical issue of the clinical implications of this research for the clinical care of the patients. After an introduction to CR and BR theory, the present chapter will review studies exploring CR and BR in healthy aging and in a series of progressive and relatively common neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), multiple sclerosis (MS), and Parkinson’s disease (PD). In the second part of the chapter, we will discuss the implications of CR and BR for clinical interventions based on mind-body medicine (in particular meditation), as possible approaches aimed at potentiating individuals’ reserve in the conditions of healthy aging, AD, MS, and PD.
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The present study investigated when emotion modulates working memory from the perspective of neural activation. Using fMRI, we measured brain activity during the encoding and retrieval phases of a reading span test (RST) that used emotional contexts. The emotional RST required participants to read sentences that elicited negative, neural or positive emotional states while they were memorizing target words from the sentences. Compared with the neutral RST, the negative RST activated the right amygdala during the reading phase. Significant activation was also found in the parahippocampal gyrus, albeit only after activation of the amygdala became comparable to that in the neutral RST. In contrast, the positive RST activated the substantia nigra during the reading phase relative to the neutral RST. These findings suggest that negative and positive emotions modulate working memory through distinctive neural circuits. We also discuss possible relationships between emotional modulation and working memory capacity.
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A model for conceptualizing the components or elements of attention is presented. The model substitutes for the diffuse and global concept of attention a group of four processes and links them to a putative system of cerebral structures. Data in support of the model are presented; they are derived from neuropsychological test scores obtained from two samples, the first consisting of 203 adult neuropsychiatric patients and normal control subjects, and the second, an epidemiologically-based sample of 435 elementary school children. Principal components analyses of test scores from these two populations yielded similar results: a set of independent elements of attention that are assayed by different tests. This work presents a heuristic for clinical research in which the measurement of attention is essential.
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To evaluate the impact of an intensive period of mindfulness meditation training on cognitive and affective function, a non-clinical group of 20 novice meditators were tested before and after participation in a 10-day intensive mindfulness meditation retreat. They were evaluated with self-report scales measuring mindfulness, rumination and affect, as well as performance tasks assessing working memory, sustained attention, and attention switching. Results indicated that those completing the mindfulness training demonstrated significant improvements in self-reported mindfulness, depressive symptoms, rumination, and performance measures of working memory and sustained attention, relative to a comparison group who did not undergo any meditation training. This study suggests future directions for the elucidation of the critical processes that underlie the therapeutic benefits of mindfulness-based interventions.
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This study assesses changes in mood and anxiety in a cohort of subjects with memory loss who participated in an 8-week Kirtan Kriya meditation program. Perceived spirituality also was assessed. Previous reports from this cohort showed changes in cognitive function and cerebral blood flow (CBF). The purpose of this analysis was to assess outcome measures of mood and affect, and also spirituality, and to determine whether or not results correlated with changes in CBF. Fifteen (15) subjects (mean age 62±7 years) with memory problems were enrolled in an 8-week meditation program. Before and after the 8-week meditation, subjects were given a battery of neuropsychologic tests as well as measures of mood, anxiety, and spirituality. In addition, they underwent single photon emission computed tomography scans before and after the program. A region-of-interest template obtained counts in several brain structures that could also be compared to the results from the affect and spirituality measures. The meditation training program resulted in notable improvement trends in mood, anxiety, tension, and fatigue, with some parameters reaching statistical significance. All major trends correlated with changes in CBF. There were nonsignificant trends in spirituality scores that did not correlate with changes in CBF. An 8-week, 12 minute a day meditation program in patients with memory loss was associated with positive changes in mood, anxiety, and other neuropsychologic parameters, and these changes correlated with changes in CBF. A larger-scale study is needed to confirm these findings and better elucidate mechanisms of change.
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Although the adult brain was once seen as a rather static organ, it is now clear that the organization of brain circuitry is constantly changing as a function of experience or learning. Yet, research also shows that learning is often specific to the trained stimuli and task, and does not improve performance on novel tasks, even very similar ones. This perspective examines the idea that systematic mental training, as cultivated by meditation, can induce learning that is not stimulus or task specific, but process specific. Many meditation practices are explicitly designed to enhance specific, well-defined core cognitive processes. We will argue that this focus on enhancing core cognitive processes, as well as several general characteristics of meditation regimens, may specifically foster process-specific learning. To this end, we first define meditation and discuss key findings from recent neuroimaging studies of meditation. We then identify several characteristics of specific meditation training regimes that may determine process-specific learning. These characteristics include ongoing variability in stimulus input, the meta-cognitive nature of the processes trained, task difficulty, the focus on maintaining an optimal level of arousal, and the duration of training. Lastly, we discuss the methodological challenges that researchers face when attempting to control or characterize the multiple factors that may underlie meditation training effects.
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There has been substantial interest in mindfulness as an approach to reduce cognitive vulnerability to stress and emotional distress in recent years. However, thus far mindfulness has not been defined operationally. This paper describes the results of recent meetings held to establish a consensus on mindfulness and to develop conjointly a testable operational definition. We propose a two-component model of mindfulness and specify each component in terms of specific behaviors, experiential manifestations, and implicated psychological processes. We then address issues regarding temporal stability and situational specificity and speculate on the conceptual and operational distinctiveness of mindfulness. We conclude this paper by discussing implications for instrument development and briefly describing our own approach to measurement.
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This study measured changes in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) during the complex cognitive task of meditation using single photon emission computed tomography. Eight experienced Tibetan Buddhist meditators were injected at baseline with 7 mCi HMPAO and scanned 20 min later for 45 min. The subjects then meditated for 1 h at which time they were injected with 25 mCi HMPAO and scanned 20 min later for 30 min. Values were obtained for regions of interest in major brain structures and normalized to whole brain activity. The percentage change between meditation and baseline was compared. Correlations between structures were also determined. Significantly increased rCBF (P<0.05) was observed in the cingulate gyrus, inferior and orbital frontal cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), and thalamus. The change in rCBF in the left DLPFC correlated negatively (P<0.05) with that in the left superior parietal lobe. Increased frontal rCBF may reflect focused concentration and thalamic increases overall increased cortical activity during meditation. The correlation between the DLPFC and the superior parietal lobe may reflect an altered sense of space experienced during meditation. These results suggest a complex rCBF pattern during the task of meditation.
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This study investigated the link between meditation, self-reported mindfulness and cognitive flexibility as well as other attentional functions. It compared a group of meditators experienced in mindfulness meditation with a meditation-naïve control group on measures of Stroop interference and the "d2-concentration and endurance test". Overall the results suggest that attentional performance and cognitive flexibility are positively related to meditation practice and levels of mindfulness. Meditators performed significantly better than non-meditators on all measures of attention. Furthermore, self-reported mindfulness was higher in meditators than non-meditators and correlations with all attention measures were of moderate to high strength. This pattern of results suggests that mindfulness is intimately linked to improvements of attentional functions and cognitive flexibility. The relevance of these findings for mental balance and well-being are discussed.
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