Meditation may give us more years with healthy brain as we age

Posted: March 1, 2015 at 5:54 am

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Alzheimer's, Dementia & Mental Health

Meditation may give us more years with healthy brain as we age

Incidence of cognitive decline and dementia has increased substantially as elderly population has grown

Feb. 9, 2015 - People are living longer and most of us take that as good news. But in the world of reality, the news is not so good, if those extra years of living are plagued with mental torment. New research of adults up to age 77, however, has found that the practice of meditation may give us more years in older age with less of the brain damage associated with aging.

Since 1970, life expectancy around the world has risen dramatically, with people living more than 10 years longer. But starting when people are in their mid-to-late-20s, the brain begins to wither its volume and weight begin to decrease. As this occurs, the brain can begin to lose some of its functional abilities.

So although people might be living longer, the years they gain often come with increased risks for mental illness and neurodegenerative disease. Fortunately, a new study shows meditation could be one way to minimize those risks.

Building on their earlier work that suggested people who meditate have less age-related atrophy in the brains white matter, a new study by UCLA researchers found that meditation appeared to help preserve the brains gray matter, the tissue that contains neurons.

These scientists looked specifically at the association between age and gray matter. They compared 50 people who had mediated for years and 50 who didnt. People in both groups showed a loss of gray matter as they aged. But the researchers found among those who meditated, the volume of gray matter did not decline as much as it did among those who didnt.

The article appears in the current online edition of the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Dr. Florian Kurth, a co-author of the study and postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Brain Mapping Center, said the researchers were surprised by the magnitude of the difference.

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Meditation may give us more years with healthy brain as we age

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Written by simmons |

March 1st, 2015 at 5:54 am

Posted in Meditation