Pilot study shows meditation may help cut Alzheimer’s risk

Pilot study shows meditation may help cut Alzheimer’s risk


The findings of a new pilot study led by Silver Santé Study researchers suggests that lifelong meditation practice may help reduce age-related brain changes and cut the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, which has been published in Scientific Reports, used brain imaging techniques Magnetic Resonance Imaging (to measure brain structure) and Fluorodeoxyglucose-Positron Emission Tomography (to measure brain function) in six elderly expert meditators and 67 non-meditators and showed that the meditators had fewer signs of age-related brain (and cognitive) decline than the elderly people who did not meditate.

Ageing is linked with a variety of changes in the brain that contribute to cognitive decline in older adults and it is increasingly acknowledged that  lifestyle factors, such as stress or sleep problems may exacerbate this and increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Meditation practice, aimed at stress reduction and emotion regulation, is thought to reduce these adverse factors.

Silver Santé Study Project Coordinator, Dr Gaël Chételat, led this pilot study in collaboration with Dr Antoine Lutz, and the contribution of other members of the team including Dr Eider Arenaza-Urquijo, Dr Géraldine Poisnel – all from INSERM (Institut national de la santé et de la recherché médicale).

Dr Chételat said: “The results from this small pilot study are very exciting and directly relevant to the Silver Santé Study.

“Seeing the differences meditation can have on brain structure and function shows great promise for improving brain function in later life and  reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s. If these results can be replicated by our own clinical trials with much larger cohorts it could be hugely beneficial to society in terms of improving mental health in later life.”

The Silver Santé Study is an EU-funded project investigating the effectiveness of a variety of interventions on healthy ageing, with a key focus on mental health and well-being including Alzheimer’s disease and its mechanisms. Researchers involved in the project are conducting clinical trials involving patients with existing subjective cognitive decline, expert meditators and participants from the general public over the age of 65.

For further information about the pilot study go to https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5578985/


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