Regular Yoga Meditation Can Improve Memory and Executive Control in Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment

What: In a study looking at the effects of Kirtan Kriya meditation training on cognitive decline, researchers found that the ancient yoga practice may be an effective and low-cost methodology for enhancing performance in mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. Researchers at UCLA conducted a randomized trial on 79 adults over the age of 55 who had been diagnosed with MCI (CDR=.5). Both groups showed significant gains in memory function. However, the meditation group also showed significantly more improvement in executive function and depression symptoms.

Why This Matters: The world’s population is aging fast, with more than 2 billion people over the age of 60 estimated by 2050. That will naturally lead to more instances of mild cognitive decline. Proving that meditation, in addition to more traditional training methods, may improve memory and executive function and decrease depression provides doctors with a potential low-cost and low-side effect treatment to better maintain function their patients.

The Takeaway: The evidence for meditation as a valuable tool in cognitive health continues to grow. Developing a regular meditation practice may be an effective low-impact and low-cost treatment everyone can do in the comfort of their own home.

Harris A. Eyre, Prabha Siddarth, Bianca Acevedo, Kathleen Van DykPattharee Paholpak, Linda Ercoli, Natalie St. Cyr, Hongyu Yang, Dharma S. Khalsa, Helen Lavretsky; A randomized controlled trial of Kundalini yoga in mild cognitive impairment; International Psychogeriatrics; 16 January 2017 |

Tejal M. Shah, Michael Weinborn, Giuseppe Verdile, Hamid R. Sohrabi, Ralph N. Martins; Enhancing Cognitive Functioning in Healthy Older Adults: a Systematic Review of the Clinical Significance of Commercially Available Computerized Cognitive Training in Preventing Cognitive Decline; Neuropsychol Rev; DOI 10.1007/s11065-016-9338-9