Alter the Brain for Improved Memory with Aging with Tai Chi

Alter the Brain for Improved Memory with Aging with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“our brain physiology and memory can be changed with Tai Chi. . . Brain scans show neural changes in the Tai Chi group associated with better memory, especially in cognitive areas associated with spatial memory.” – Paul Lam

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our mental abilities which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem-solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided.

 

Using modern neuroimaging techniques, scientists have been able to view the changes that occur in the nervous system with aging. In addition, they have been able to investigate various techniques that might slow the process of neurodegeneration that accompanies normal aging. They’ve found that mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue. Indeed, the brains of practitioners of meditation and yoga have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners. Tai Chi and Qigong have also been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging and to increase brain matter in the elderly.

 

An interconnected system of the brain known as the Default Mode Network (DMN) is involved in internally focused tasks such as recalling memories, daydreaming, sleeping, imagining the future and trying to take the perspective of others. The DMN involves neural structures including the medial prefrontal cortex, anterior and posterior cingulate cortices, precuneus, inferior parietal cortex, and lateral temporal cortex. These areas of the DMN are functionally connected, such that they are simultaneously active during memory retrieval. It is possible that Tai Chi practice improves memory in aging adults by altering the functional connectivity of the DMN.

 

In today’s Research News article “Different Modulation Effects of Tai Chi Chuan and Baduanjin on Resting State Functional Connectivity of the Default Mode Baduanjin is a mind-body training that is very similar to Tai Chi and consists of 8 movements for limbs, body-trunk, and eye movements. Network in Older Adults.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6374601/), Liu and colleagues recruited healthy older participants, aged 50 to 70 years, who had not been regularly exercising and randomly assigned them to a health education program or to engage in a Tai Chi or Baduanjin practice for 60 minutes per session, five days per week, for 12 weeks. Baduanjin is a mind-body training that is very similar to Tai Chi and consists of 8 movements for limbs, body-trunk, and eye movements. Before and after the 12-week intervention period the participants were measured for memory function and underwent Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the health education control group the older adults who practiced Tai Chi or Baduanjin had significant improvements in memory function. The MRI scans demonstrated increased Tai Chi Practice produced functional connectivity within the Default Mode Network (DMN) between the medial prefrontal cortex and right putamen/caudate and the cingulate cortex and right putamen/caudate. On the other hand, Baduanjin practice produced decreased functional connectivity between the medial prefrontal cortex and orbital prefrontal gyrus/putamen.

 

These results are interesting and suggest that both Tai Chi and Baduanjin practice improve memory in older adults and also alter the connectivity between structures in the Default Mode Network (DMN). Interestingly, the two practices appear to produce different changes in functional connectivity within the DMN. This suggests that the two practice my improve memory in different ways, both altering the DMN, but differently.

 

The results demonstrate as has previous research that ancient Chinese mindful movement practices help to restrain age related deterioration in the memory processes. These mindful movement practices are gentle and safe, are appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion, are inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility, and can be quickly learned. In addition, they can be practiced in social groups. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. So, Tai Chi and Baduanjin practices would appear to be an excellent gentle practice to improve memory in aging individuals.

 

So, alter the brain for improved memory with aging with Tai Chi and Baduanjin practices.

 

tai chi is a culturally appropriate mind-body therapy for older adults with mild cognitive impairment . . . It was also effective in improving the activities of daily living and cognition.” – Medical News Bulletin

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Liu, J., Tao, J., Liu, W., Huang, J., Xue, X., Li, M., … Kong, J. (2019). Different Modulation Effects of Tai Chi Chuan and Baduanjin on Resting State Functional Connectivity of the Default Mode Network in Older Adults. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 14(2), 217–224. Advance online publication. doi:10.1093/scan/nsz001

 

Abstract

The default mode network (DMN) plays an important role in age-related cognitive decline. This study aims to explore the modulation effect of two mind–body interventions (Tai Chi Chuan and Baduanjin) on DMN in elderly individuals. Participants between 50 and 70 years old were recruited and randomized into a Tai Chi Chuan, Baduanjin or control group. The Wechsler Memory Scale-Chinese Revision and resting-state fMRI scans were administered at baseline and following 12 weeks of exercise. Seed-based resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) was calculated. We found that (i) compared to the Baduanjin group, Tai Chi Chuan was significantly associated with increased rsFC between the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and right putamen/caudate and (ii) compared to the control group, Tai Chi Chuan increased posterior cingulate cortex rsFC with the right putamen/caudate, while Baduanjin decreased rsFC between the mPFC and orbital prefrontal gyrus/putamen. Baseline mPFC rsFC with orbital prefrontal gyrus was negatively correlated with visual reproduction subscore. These results suggest that both Tai Chi Chuan and Baduanjin can modulate the DMN, but through different pathways. Elucidating the mechanisms underlying different mind–body interventions may shed light on the development of new methods to prevent age-related diseases as well as other disorders associated with disrupted DMN.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6374601/

 

Change Brain Connectivity for Better Attention and Thinking with Mindfulness

Change Brain Connectivity for Better Attention and Thinking with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness meditation training increases resting state connectivity between top-down executive control regions, highlighting an important mechanism through which it reduces stress levels.” – Daniel Reed

 

There has accumulated a large amount of research demonstrating that mindfulness has significant benefits for psychological, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. It even improves high level thinking known as executive function and emotion regulation and compassion. Its positive effects are so widespread that it is difficult to find any other treatment of any kind with such broad beneficial effects on everything from thinking to mood and happiness to severe mental and physical illnesses. This raises the question of how mindfulness training could produce such widespread and varied benefits. One possibility is that mindfulness practice results in beneficial changes in the nervous system.

 

The nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity. Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread areas. In other words, mindfulness practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits. The changes are complex and require sophisticated brain scanning techniques to detect. Hence there is a need to continue investigating the nature of these changes in the brain produced by meditation.

 

In today’s Research News article “Trait Mindfulness and Functional Connectivity in Cognitive and Attentional Resting State Networks.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6473082/), Parkinson and colleagues recruited undergraduate students who had never meditated, measured them for mindfulness, and scanned their brains under resting conditions with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). They examined the functional connectivity of a number of established neural networks and their relationship with mindfulness.

 

They found that mindfulness was negatively related to the functional connectivity of the Default Mode Network (DMN) and positively related to the functional connectivity of the Salience Network, the Central Executive Network, and Attention Network. The Default Mode Network (DMN) has been shown to be associated with mind wandering and self-referential thinking. It is not surprising that mindfulness would be associated with lower levels of the functioning of this network. Indeed, previous work has demonstrated that mindfulness is associated with reduced “mind wandering.”

 

The Salience Network is involved in detecting and filtering important stimuli in the environment from the environment and thereby gets involved in a myriad of high level psychological and social functions. The results suggest that being more mindful is associated with being more sensitive to important information.

 

The Central Executive Network has been shown to be associated with high level thinking and behavioral control. Hence, the results further suggest that high mindfulness is associated with improved cognition. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown through extensive research to be associated with better cognitive ability.

 

Finally, the Attention Network has been found to be associated with, no surprise, the ability to attend and focus. This suggests that high mindfulness is associated with improved attention ability. Again, this reflects other research which demonstrated that mindfulness is associated with a greater ability to attend.

 

Hence the study demonstrated the associations with mindfulness with functional connectivity in various neural networks tracks the demonstrated effects of mindfulness on the individual’s ability to focus, think, and stay in the present moment. This further suggests that changes in the operations of the brain are produced by mindfulness and that hese changes in turn produced improved functional capacities.

 

So, change brain connectivity for better attention and thinking with mindfulness.

 

“Just 11 hours of learning a meditation technique induce positive structural changes in brain connectivity by boosting efficiency in a part of the brain that helps a person regulate behavior in accordance with their goals,” – University of Oregon

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Parkinson, T. D., Kornelsen, J., & Smith, S. D. (2019). Trait Mindfulness and Functional Connectivity in Cognitive and Attentional Resting State Networks. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 13, 112. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2019.00112

 

Abstract

Mindfulness has been described as an orienting of attention to the present moment, with openness and compassion. Individuals displaying high trait mindfulness exhibit this tendency as a more permanent personality attribute. Given the numerous physical and mental health benefits associated with mindfulness, there is a great interest in understanding the neural substrates of this trait. The purpose of the current research was to examine how individual differences in trait mindfulness associated with functional connectivity in five resting-state networks related to cognition and attention: the default mode network (DMN), the salience network (SN), the central executive network (CEN), and the dorsal and ventral attention networks (DAN and VAN). Twenty-eight undergraduate participants completed the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), a self-report measure of trait mindfulness which also provides scores on five of its sub-categories (Observing, Describing, Acting with Awareness, Non-judging of Inner Experience, and Non-reactivity to Inner Experience). Participants then underwent a structural MRI scan and a 7-min resting state functional MRI scan. Resting-state data were analyzed using independent-component analyses. An analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was performed to determine the relationship between each resting state network and each FFMQ score. These analyses indicated that: (1) trait mindfulness and its facets showed increased functional connectivity with neural regions related to attentional control, interoception, and executive function; and (2) trait mindfulness and its facets showed decreased functional connectivity with neural regions related to self-referential processing and mind wandering. These patterns of functional connectivity are consistent with some of the benefits of mindfulness—enhanced attention, self-regulation, and focus on present experience. This study provides support for the notion that non-judgmental attention to the present moment facilitates the integration of regions in neural networks that are related to cognition, attention, and sensation.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6473082/

 

Improve Attention and Hyperactivity in Kindergarten Children with Yoga

Improve Attention and Hyperactivity in Kindergarten Children with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga is a systematic workout regimen that has rejuvenating and calming effects on our body and mind. Young kids go through conflicting emotions, and yoga helps calm them down. They are also extremely flexible and therefore, a practice like yoga will help them contort their bodies in different ways.” – Shirin Mehdi

 

Yoga practice has been shown to have a large number of beneficial effects on the psychological, emotional, and physical health of the individual and is helpful in the treatment of mental and physical illness. The acceptance of yoga practice has spread from the home and yoga studios to its application with children in schools. Studies of these school programs have found that yoga practice produces a wide variety of positive psychosocial and physical benefits.

 

Teachers also note improvements in their students following yoga practice. These include improved classroom behavior and social–emotional skills, concentration, mood, ability to function under pressure, social skills, and attention and lower levels of hyperactivity. In addition, school records, academic tests have shown that yoga practice produces improvements in student grades and academic performance. This, in turn, improves the classroom experience for the teachers. Hence there are very good reasons to further study the effects of yoga practice early in children’s schooling; kindergarten.

 

In today’s Research News article “12 Weeks of Kindergarten-Based Yoga Practice Increases Visual Attention, Visual-Motor Precision and Decreases Behavior of Inattention and Hyperactivity in 5-Year-Old Children.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00796/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_963174_69_Psycho_20190416_arts_A), Jarraya and colleagues recruited kindergarten students and randomly assigned them to either practice yoga, normal physical education, or no treatment control. Yoga and Physical Education occurred twice per week for 30 minutes for 12 weeks. The Hatha yoga practice included postures and breathing exercises. The children were measured by their kindergarten teacher before and after the treatments for visual attention, visuomotor precision, inattention, and hyperactivity/impulsivity.

 

They found that in comparison to PE and control children, the children who practiced yoga had significantly improved visual attention and visuomotor precision, and significantly lower inattention, and hyperactivity/impulsivity. Visuomotor precision is a measure of cognitive function and includes measures of language, memory and learning, sensorimotor, social perception, and visuospatial processing. Hence, yoga practice improved attention, behavioral control, and higher-level thinking in the kindergarten children.

 

These are exciting results that are similar to those observed with older children. The abilities observed to have improved in the kindergarten children who practiced yoga are abilities that are essential for school performance. Attention is a key ability and that along with an additional reduction in hyperactivity sets the stage for learning. Then improved cognitive ability further heightens learning ability. This suggests that yoga practice has large benefits and should be recommended for young children to promote their ability to learn and perform in school.

 

So, improve attention and hyperactivity in kindergarten children with yoga.

 

“It sounds kind of goofy to people who don’t work with little kids, but kids that have a weak core have a hard time sitting still, and that can look like they’re not paying attention. Those are the kinds of mind-body connections you don’t think about until you start looking into it.” – Chas Zelinsky

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Jarraya S, Wagner M, Jarraya M and Engel FA (2019) 12 Weeks of Kindergarten-Based Yoga Practice Increases Visual Attention, Visual-Motor Precision and Decreases Behavior of Inattention and Hyperactivity in 5-Year-Old Children. Front. Psychol. 10:796. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00796

 

The present study assesses the impact of Kindergarten-based yoga on cognitive performance, visual-motor coordination, and behavior of inattention and hyperactivity in 5-year-old children. In this randomized controlled trial, 45 children (28 female; 17 male; 5.2 ± 0.4 years) participated. Over 12 weeks, 15 children performed Hatha-yoga twice a week for 30 min, another 15 children performed generic physical education (PE) twice a week for 30 min, and 15 children performed no kind of physical activities, serving as control group (CG). Prior to (T0) and after 12 weeks (T1), all participants completed Visual Attention and Visuomotor Precision subtests of Neuropsychological Evaluation Battery and teachers evaluated children’s behavior of inattention and hyperactivity with the Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Rating Scale-IV. At T0, no significant differences between groups appeared. Repeated measures analysis of variance revealed that following Bonferroni–Holm corrections yoga, in comparison to PE and CG, had a significant positive impact on the development on behavior of inattention and hyperactivity. Further, yoga has a significant positive impact on completion times in two visumotor precision tasks in comparison to PE. Finally, results indicate a significant positive effect of yoga on visual attention scores in comparison to CG. 12 weeks of Kindergarten-based yoga improves selected visual attention and visual-motor precision parameters and decreases behavior of inattention and hyperactivity in 5-year-old children. Consequently, yoga represents a sufficient and cost-benefit effective exercise which could enhance cognitive and behavioral factors relevant for learning and academic achievement among young children.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00796/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_963174_69_Psycho_20190416_arts_A

 

Become More Sensitive to Others with Meditation

Become More Sensitive to Others with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“as we pay attention to our breath, our body, our lives, in this simple and gentle way, a natural consequence is the opening of the heart.” – Matthew Brensilver

 

Humans are social animals. This is a great asset for the species as the effort of the individual is amplified by cooperation. In primitive times, this cooperation was essential for survival. But in modern times it is also essential, not for survival but rather for making a living and for the happiness of the individual. This ability to cooperate is so essential to human flourishing that it is built deep into our DNA and is reflected in the structure of the human nervous system. This deep need for positive social interactions heightens the pain of social rejection.

 

Mindfulness has been found to increase prosocial behaviors such as altruism, compassion and empathy and reduce antisocial behaviors such as violence and aggression. In today’s Research News article “Exploring the Role of Meditation and Dispositional Mindfulness on Social Cognition Domains: A Controlled Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00809/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_963174_69_Psycho_20190416_arts_A), Campos and colleagues examine the relationship of mindfulness to social cognition, “the mental operations that underlie social interactions, including perceiving, interpreting, and generating responses to the intentions, dispositions, and behaviors of others”.

 

They recruited a group of healthy adult meditation practitioners and a group of non-meditators and had them complete measures of mindfulness, empathy, emotion recognition, theory of mind, attribution style, depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairment. Comparing the two groups they found that the meditators had significantly higher levels of mindfulness, interpersonal reactivity (empathy), emotion recognition, and theory of mind and significantly lower levels of cognitive impairment and lower levels of attribution style, including hostility bias intentionality bias, blame, anger bias, and aggressivity bias. They also found that the higher the levels of mindfulness, particularly the non-reactivity facet of mindfulness, the higher the levels of empathy.

 

This study is cross-sectional and has to be interpreted with caution. The results, however suggest that meditators have higher levels of social cognition. That is, that meditators are much more sensitive to others. This, in turn, improves their ability to understand and interact with others. They also suggest that meditators have a better ability to be non-reactive to what is transpiring in the present moment. This would make them better at responding empathetically to others. Hence, the study suggests that meditation practice may improve the individual’s sensitivity to others.

 

So, become more sensitive to others with meditation.

 

“Learning to communicate with empathy can go a long way toward building more positivity in your relationships and reducing your stress. If we all focused more on listening and understanding each other, the world would be a lot less stressful—and a lot happier—place to live.” – Arthur Ciamamicoli

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Campos D, Modrego-Alarcón M, López-del-Hoyo Y, González-Panzano M, Van Gordon W, Shonin E, Navarro-Gil M and García-Campayo J (2019) Exploring the Role of Meditation and Dispositional Mindfulness on Social Cognition Domains: A Controlled Study. Front. Psychol. 10:809. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00809

 

Research suggests that mindfulness can induce changes in the social domain, such as enhancing emotional connection to others, prosocial behavior, and empathy. However, despite growing interest in mindfulness in social psychology, very little is known about the effects of mindfulness on social cognition. Consequently, the aim of this study was to explore the relationship between mindfulness and social cognition by comparing meditators with non-meditators on several social cognition measures. A total of 60 participants (meditators, n = 30; non-meditators, n = 30) were matched on sex, age, and ethnic group, and then asked to complete the following assessment measures: Mindful Awareness Attention Scale (MAAS), Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire Short Form (FFMQ-SF), Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI), Revised Eyes Test, Hinting Task, Ambiguous Intentions and Hostility Questionnaire (AIHQ), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), and Screening for Cognitive Impairment in Psychiatry (SCIP). The results showed that meditators reported higher empathy (except for the personal distress subscale), higher emotional recognition, higher theory of mind (ToM), and lower hostile attributional style/bias. The findings also demonstrated that dispositional mindfulness (both total score assessed with MAAS and mindfulness facets using the FFMQ) was associated with social cognition, although it was not equally correlated with all social cognition outcomes, and correlation patterns differ when analyses were conducted separately for meditators and non-meditators. In addition, results showed potential predictors for each social cognition variable, highlighting non-reactivity to inner experience as a key component of mindfulness in order to explain social cognition performance. In summary, the findings indicated that the meditator sample performed better on certain qualities (i.e., empathy, emotional recognition, ToM, hostile attributional style/bias) in comparison to non-meditators and, furthermore, support the notion that mindfulness is related to social cognition, which may have implications for the design of mindfulness-based approaches for use in clinical and non-clinical settings.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00809/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_963174_69_Psycho_20190416_arts_A

 

Improve Feedback Learning with Focused Meditation

Improve Feedback Learning with Focused Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Meditation is a powerful tool for the body and the mind; it can reduce stress and improve immune function. But can it also help us train our minds to learn faster from feedback or information acquired through past experiences?” – Jasmine Collier

 

Learning is fundamental to humans’ ability to survive and adapt in our environments. It is particularly essential in modern environments. Indeed, modern humans need to spend decades learning the knowledge and skills that are needed to be productive. Essential to the learning process is reacting to feedback from the consequences of actions. This is known as the “Law of Effect. Mindfulness is known to improve learning. So, it would seem reasonable to investigate how mindfulness training may improve the ability to respond to the feedback and learn.

 

In today’s Research News article “Meditation experience predicts negative reinforcement learning and is associated with attenuated FRN amplitude.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6420441/), Knytl and Opitz recruited healthy adults and separated them into groups who were non-meditators, novice meditators, and experienced meditators. The meditators were practitioners of focused meditation. They performed a probablistic selection task while the electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded. Event related potentials (ERPs) were recorded in response to the presentation of the symbols.

 

In the probablistic selection task the participants were asked to select between two symbols presented randomly on a computer screen. One symbol, if selected, would produce positive feedback (10 points). Whether that symbol produced the feedback did not occur on every occasion. There were different probabilities of feedback, 20%, 30%, 40%, 60%, 70%, 80%. In the 60% case feedback would occur 6 out of every 10 times the symbol was presented. The participants were not told which symbols would produce positive feedback. They had to discover it themselves.

 

They found that non-meditators were significantly more negatively biased while focused meditators were significantly more positively biased. The non-meditators were better at not responding on trials where there was no positive feedback symbol present while the focused meditators were better at responding on trials where there was a positive feedback symbol present. In addition, they found that the more years of focused meditation experience the larger the difference.

 

In the EEG, the focused meditators had the smallest feedback related negativity (FRN) which involves a greater negative going electrical response of the frontal lobes in the event related potential (ERP) that occurred about a quarter of a second after the stimulus on positive trials than on negative trials. This response is thought to signal reinforcement occurring in the brain systems. In addition, they found that the more years of meditation experience the larger the reduction in the FRN.

 

The study is complicated and the results difficult to interpret, but they suggest that focused meditation experience makes and individual more sensitive to positive reinforcement and less sensitive to negative reinforcement. This bias is reflected in both the behavioral and event related potential data. This suggests that the demonstrated ability of focused meditation training to improve attention ability improves the ability of the meditator to detect stimuli that produce positive reinforcement. This makes meditators better at learning the feedback signals provided by the environment.

 

So, improve feedback learning with focused meditation.

 

“Humans have been meditating for over 2000 years, but the neural mechanisms of this practice are still relatively unknown. These findings demonstrate that, on a deep level, meditators respond to feedback in a more even-handed way than non-meditators, which may help to explain some of the psychological benefits they experience from the practice.” – Paul Knytl

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Knytl, P., & Opitz, B. (2018). Meditation experience predicts negative reinforcement learning and is associated with attenuated FRN amplitude. Cognitive, affective & behavioral neuroscience, 19(2), 268–282. doi:10.3758/s13415-018-00665-0

 

Abstract

Focused attention meditation (FAM) practices are cognitive control exercises where meditators learn to maintain focus and attention in the face of distracting stimuli. Previous studies have shown that FAM is both activating and causing plastic changes to the mesolimbic dopamine system and some of its target structures, particularly the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and striatum. Feedback-based learning also depends on these systems and is known to be modulated by tonic dopamine levels. Capitalizing on previous findings that FAM practices seem to cause dopamine release, the present study shows that FAM experience predicts learning from negative feedback on a probabilistic selection task. Furthermore, meditators exhibited attenuated feedback-related negativity (FRN) as compared with nonmeditators and this effect scales with meditation experience. Given that reinforcement learning and FRN are modulated by dopamine levels, a possible explanation for our findings is that FAM practice causes persistent increases in tonic dopamine levels which scale with amount of practice, thus altering feedback processing.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6420441/

 

Heighten Mental and Physical Well-Being with Mindfulness Training

Heighten Mental and Physical Well-Being with Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others. If greater well-being isn’t enough of an incentive, scientists have discovered that mindfulness techniques help improve physical health in a number of ways. Mindfulness can: help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, , improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties.” – Harvard Health

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. Techniques such as Mindfulness Training, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) as well as Yoga practice and Tai Chi or Qigong practice have been demonstrated to be effective. This has led to an increasing adoption of these mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals.

 

This research suggests that engaging in mindfulness practices can make you a better human being, with greater mental and physical well-being. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Training: Can It Create Superheroes?” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00613/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_951898_69_Psycho_20190404_arts_A), Jones and colleagues review and summarize the published research on the effects of mindfulness training on psychological and physical well-being.

 

They found that the published research presented substantial findings that mindfulness training enhanced physical functioning including improved health, decreased heart rate, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood cortisol and resistance to disease, including improved stress responding, increased immune system response, and decreased inflammatory responses. They also report the mindfulness training produces tended to protect against the mental and physical effects of aging, including reduced cognitive decline and reduced brain deterioration. In addition, they report that mindfulness training produces improved cognitive processing, including improved heightened attentional ability, improved neural processing, and alterations of brain systems underlying consciousness. Mindfulness training also produced greater resilience and fearlessness, including improved emotion regulation, reduced responding to negative stimuli, lower pain responding, and lower fear conditioning. Mindfulness training also produced more self-less and pro-social behaviors, including increased altruism, increased kindness, and compassion. Finally, they report that mindfulness training can produce some control over autonomic responses.

 

This review suggests that people who engage in mindfulness training become superior in mental and physical health to non-practitioners and have superior cognitive abilities particularly in regard to attention and higher-level thinking. This doesn’t exactly make them “superheroes” but rather better versions of themselves.

 

So, heighten mental and physical well-being with mindfulness training.

 

Ultimately, engaging in mindfulness meditation cultivates our ability to both focus and broaden our attention, which is a practical way to elicit psychological well-being.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Jones P (2019) Mindfulness Training: Can It Create Superheroes? Front. Psychol. 10:613. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00613

 

With the emergence of the science of heroism there now exists both theoretical and empirical literature on the characteristics of our everyday hero. We seek to expand this inquiry and ask what could be the causes and conditions of a superhero. To address this we investigate the origins of mindfulness, Buddhist psychology and the assertion that its practitioners who have attained expertise in mindfulness practices can develop supernormal capabilities. Examining first their foundational eight “jhana” states (levels of attention) and the six consequent “abhinnas” (siddhis or special abilities) that arise from such mental mastery, we then explore any evidence that mindfulness practices have unfolded the supernormal potential of its practitioners. We found a growing base of empirical literature suggesting some practitioners exhibit indicators of enhanced functioning including elevated physical health and resistance to disease, increased immunity to aging and improved cognitive processing, greater resilience and fearlessness, more self-less and pro-social behaviors, some control over normally autonomic responses, and possibly some paranormal functionality. These improvements in normal human functioning provide some evidence that there are practices that develop these abilities, and as such we might want to consider adopting them to develop this capability. There are however insufficient studies of expert meditators and more research of adepts is called for that explores the relationship between levels of attentional skill and increases in functionality. We propose in search of the superhero, that if conventional mindfulness training can already augment mental and physical capabilities, a more serious inquiry and translation of its advanced methods into mainstream psychological theory is warranted.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00613/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_951898_69_Psycho_20190404_arts_A

Reduce Aging Cognitive Decline with Mindfulness

Reduce Aging Cognitive Decline with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

We know that approximately 50 percent of people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment—the intermediate stage between the expected declines of normal aging and the more serious cognitive deterioration associated with dementia—may develop dementia within five years.” – Rebecca Erwin Wells

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our mental abilities (cognition) which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem solving abilities. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. An encouraging new development is that mindfulness practices such as meditation training can significantly reduce these declines in cognitive ability. In addition, it has been found that mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue. Indeed, the brains of practitioners of meditation and yoga have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners.

 

Before active dementia occurs, patients show problems with attention, thinking, and memory known as mild cognitive impairment. Intervening at this point may be able to delay or even prevent full blown dementia, So, it is important to study the effectiveness of mindfulness training on older adults with mild cognitive impairment to improve their cognitive performance.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effects of Mindfulness on Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6159696/ ), Wong and colleagues recruited healthy older adults (> 60 years of age) who were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and were meditation naïve. They participated in an 8-week, 1.5 hours per week, program of mindfulness training that included body scan meditation, breath meditation, loving kindness meditation, and everyday mindfulness practice. The participants were also encouraged to practice at home. They were measured before and after training and one year later for cognitive function, psychological health, mindfulness, mindfulness adherence, and daily living functionality.

 

They found that after training the participants had significant improvements in mindfulness and cognitive function. These improvements were no longer significant at the one year follow up. This appears, however, to be due to the level of continuing practice as the greater the amount of meditation practice during the 1-year follow-up period the greater the level of cognitive function. Indeed, those who practiced above the group average had significantly better cognitive performance at the 1-year follow-up than those who were below average in practicing.

 

These results suggest that mindfulness training produces significant cognitive benefits for elderly individuals with mild cognitive impairments. But continued practice is necessary to maintain the benefits. Hence, long-term mindfulness practice may be able to restrain further cognitive decline in these patients and may delay or prevent the onset of dementia. It is clear however, that continuing mindfulness practice is required.

 

So, reduce aging cognitive decline with mindfulness.

 

“What we do know is that long-term engagement in mindfulness meditation may enhance cognitive performance in older adults, and that with persistent practice, these benefits may be sustained. That’s great news for the millions of aging adults working to combat the negative effects of aging on the brain.” – Grace Bullock

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Wong, W. P., Coles, J., Chambers, R., Wu, D. B., & Hassed, C. (2017). The Effects of Mindfulness on Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment. Journal of Alzheimer’s disease reports, 1(1), 181-193. doi:10.3233/ADR-170031

 

Abstract

Background:

The current lack of an effective cure for dementia would exacerbate its prevalence and incidence globally. Growing evidence has linked mindfulness to cognitive and psychological improvements that could be relevant for mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Objective:

To investigate whether mindfulness practice can improve health outcomes of MCI.

Methods:

The study is the first longitudinal mixed-methods observational study with a one-year follow-up period, that customized an eight-week group-based mindfulness training program for older adults with MCI (n = 14). Measures included cognitive function, psychological health, trait mindfulness, adherence to mindfulness practice, and everyday activities functioning as assessed at pre-intervention, post-intervention, and one-year follow-up. Repeated measures ANOVAs, Pearson’s correlation analyses, and Mann-Whitney U tests were performed.

Results:

The MCI participants showed significant improvements in cognitive function (p < 0.05) and trait mindfulness (p < 0.05) after completing the intervention. Between program intervention and one-year follow-up (59 weeks), positive correlations were found between their cognitive function (p < 0.05) and everyday activities functioning (p < 0.05) with the duration of mindfulness meditation; and between trait mindfulness and the level of informal mindfulness practice (p < 0.05). Those who meditated more during these 59 weeks, showed greater improvements in cognitive function (p < 0.05) and everyday activities functioning (p < 0.05), with large effect sizes at the one-year follow-up. Qualitative findings will be reported separately.

Conclusion:

Long-term mindfulness practice may be associated with cognitive and functional improvements for older adults with MCI. Mindfulness training could be a potential efficacious non-pharmacological therapeutic intervention for MCI.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6159696/

Improve Cognitive Function in Breast Cancer Survivors with Mindfulness

Improve Cognitive Function in Breast Cancer Survivors with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Participation in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program yields robust and sustained improvement in cancer-related cognitive impairment, a prevalent and potentially debilitating condition that affects attention, memory and executive function in survivors.” – ScienceDaily

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Cognitive impairments are a frequent side effect of cancer treatment. This has been dubbed “chemo brain.” Patients often refer to it as a mental cloudiness.

 

The patients report problems including forgetting things, trouble concentrating, trouble remembering details like names and dates, trouble multi-tasking, like answering the phone while cooking, taking longer to finish things, disorganized and slower thinking, and trouble remembering common words. These cognitive impairments generally produce problems with work and even social relationships such that patients tend to isolate themselves. They can also produce treatment problems as the patients often forget to take their medications.

 

These problems result from the fact that chemotherapy, radiation therapy and many cancer drugs directly affect the nervous system. At present, there are no known treatments for these cognitive impairment side effects of chemotherapy. Contemplative practices have been shown to affect memory and have positive effects on cancer treatment and recovery.  There is some evidence that contemplative practices may be useful for the alleviation of “chemo brain” symptoms. So, it makes sense to step back and review what is known regarding the ability of mindfulness training to improve the cancer patient’s cognitive abilities.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based interventions and cognitive function among breast cancer survivors: a systematic review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6260900/ ), Cifu and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies on the effectiveness of mindfulness training for the cognitive deficits present after recovery from breast cancer. They identified 6 studies; 5 of which were randomized controlled studies and 4 of which used the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program.

 

They found mixed results from the studies but the majority found that mindfulness training produced significant improvements in the cognitive abilities of the patients. The 2 studies that reported follow-up data demonstrated that the improvements were sustained 2 and 6 months after the end of the program. These mixed findings suggest that mindfulness training may be useful in treating the problems with thinking, memory, and attention that result from treatment for breast cancer, but more research is needed to reach firm conclusions.

 

It is not known what the mechanism might be by which mindfulness training relieves these cognitive impairments. But it has been previously demonstrated that mindfulness training improves cognition in healthy and aging populations by changing the brain, particularly the frontal cortical regions. It is possible that this is the same phenomenon only with breast cancer survivors.

 

So, improve cognitive function in breast cancer survivors with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) may improve cognitive function in breast and colorectal cancer survivors.” Neurology Advisor

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Cifu, G., Power, M. C., Shomstein, S., & Arem, H. (2018). Mindfulness-based interventions and cognitive function among breast cancer survivors: a systematic review. BMC cancer, 18(1), 1163. doi:10.1186/s12885-018-5065-3

 

Abstract

Background

Breast cancer survivors have an elevated risk of cognitive impairment compared to age-matched women without cancer. Causes of this impairment are complex, including both treatment and psychological factors. Mindfulness-based interventions, which have been shown to improve cognitive function in the general population, may be one approach to mitigate cognitive impairment in this survivor population. Our objective was to conduct a systematic literature review of studies on the effect of mindfulness-based interventions on cognition among breast cancer survivors.

Methods

We conducted searches of three electronic databases (Scopus, PubMed and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews) in September 2017 for studies pertaining mindfulness and cognitive function among breast cancer survivors. Abstracts were manually searched by two reviewers and additional articles were identified through reference lists.

Results

A total of 226 articles were identified through our systematic search and six met inclusion criteria for this review. The reviewed studies lacked consistency in terms of the cognition domains studied (e.g. executive function, recent memory, etc) and in the measures used to assess cognition. Of the included studies, two found no association between mindfulness interventions and cognitive function, two found improvement that was not sustained at the follow-up, and another two found sustained improvement at 2- or 6-months.

Conclusions

Mindfulness-based interventions have shown some evidence for improving cognition among breast cancer survivors, but further research using validated and comprehensive cognitive assessments is needed. More research is also needed related to the timing, duration and content of mindfulness interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6260900/

 

Improve Health with Qigong

Improve Health with Qigong

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The health benefits from Qigong and Tai Chi comes about both by supporting the body’s natural tendency to return to balance and equilibrium and also gently yet profoundly creating strength, flexibility and balance in the muscles and joints through gentle flowing movements.” – Denise Nagel

 

Qigong and Tai Chi have been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevity. Qigong and Tai Chi training are designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. Only recently though have the effects of Qigong practice been scrutinized with empirical research. It has been found to be effective for an array of physical and psychological issues. It appears to strengthen the immune systemreduce inflammationincrease the number of cancer killing cells in the bloodstream and improve cardiovascular function.

 

Because Qigong is not strenuous, involving slow gentle movements, and is safe, having no appreciable side effects, it is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. So, with indications of so many benefits it makes sense to step back and review the research on the effects of Qigong training on health and well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “Beneficial Effects of Qigong Wuqinxi in the Improvement of Health Condition, Prevention, and Treatment of Chronic Diseases: Evidence from a Systematic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6220394/ ), Guo and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the effects of Qigong practice on physical and psychological health. They found 28 published research studies.

 

They report that the research finds that Qigong practice by healthy adults produces improvements in cognitive functions including concentration and attention, strengthens the immune system, improves body shape and size, physical function, and the cardiovascular system, improves mood and psychological well-being, improves lipid metabolism, slows physiological indicators of aging, and reduces inflammation. For clinical populations, they report that the research indicates that Qigong practice reduces depression, and improves osteoarthritis, including knee osteoarthritis, metabolic syndrome, and blood fat levels.

 

Conclusions from these very exciting findings must be tempered as the research methodologies were often weak. More tightly controlled studies are needed. Regardless, these findings suggest that Qigong practice produces improved physical and psychological health in both healthy adults and people with mental and physical diseases. These are a remarkable set of benefits from this simple practice and suggest the reason why it has continued to be practiced by large numbers of people for hundreds of years. Hence, this simple, inexpensive, convenient, safe, and fun practice may improve the participants ability to successfully conduct their lives, improving health and well-being.

 

So, improve health with Qigong.

 

“A compelling body of research emerges when Tai Chi studies and the growing body of Qigong studies are combined. The evidence suggests that a wide range of health benefits accrue in response to these meditative movement forms.” – Dr. Mercola

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Guo, Y., Xu, M., Wei, Z., Hu, Q., Chen, Y., Yan, J., & Wei, Y. (2018). Beneficial Effects of Qigong Wuqinxi in the Improvement of Health Condition, Prevention, and Treatment of Chronic Diseases: Evidence from a Systematic Review. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2018, 3235950. doi:10.1155/2018/3235950

 

Abstract

Purpose

Qigong is a modality of traditional Chinese mind-body medicine that has been used to prevent and cure ailments, to improve health in China for thousands of years. Wuqinxi, a Chinese traditional Qigong that focuses on mind-body integration, is thought to be an effective exercise in promoting physical and mental wellbeing. Thus, we summarized the evidence and aim to unravel effects of Wuqinxi on health outcomes.

Methods

We performed a systematic review of Wuqinxi studies published in English or Chinese since 1979. Relevant English and Chinese language electronic data bases were used for literature search. The selection of studies, data extraction, and validation were performed independently by two reviewers.

Results

A total of 28 eligible studies were included in this review, among which three are 3 in English and 25 in Chinese. The studies included in this review involve three different experimental designs: (1) 16 RCTs; (2) 2 historical cohort studies; and (3) 10 pretest and posttest studies (PPS). Participants in this review are categorized as either healthy or clinical populations. The results from this systematic review support the notion that Wuqinxi may be effective as an adjunctive rehabilitation method for improving psychological and physiological wellbeing among different age of healthy populations in addition to alleviating and treating diseases among various clinical populations.

Conclusion

The results indicated that Wuqinxi has been thought to be beneficial to improve health and treat chronic diseases. However, the methodological problems in the majority of included studies make it difficult to draw firm conclusive statements. More methodologically rigorous designed large-scale RCTs with a long-term follow-up assessment should be further conducted to examine the effects of Wuqixi on health-related parameters and disease-specific measures in different health conditions. This systematic review lends insight for future studies on Wuqinxi and its potential application in preventive and rehabilitation medicine.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6220394/

 

Improve Cognition and Reduce Age-related Cognitive Decline with Meditation

Improve Cognition and Reduce Age-related Cognitive Decline with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“While we might expect our bodies and brains to follow a shared trajectory of development and degeneration over time, by actively practicing strategies such as meditation, we might actually preserve and protect our physical body and brain structure to extend our golden years and shine even more brightly in old age.” – Sonima Wellness

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our mental abilities (cognition) which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. An encouraging new development is that mindfulness practices such as meditation training can significantly reduce these declines in cognitive ability. In addition, it has been found that mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue. Indeed, the brains of practitioners of meditation and yoga have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners.

 

Most studies of age-related decline are cross-sectional, comparing groups of different ages. In today’s Research News article “Cognitive Aging and Long-Term Maintenance of Attentional Improvements Following Meditation Training.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41465-018-0068-1 ), Zanesco and colleagues perform a longitudinal analysis, following participants for up to 7 years to investigate the effects of a meditation retreat on cognitive ability.

 

They recruited experienced meditators and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive a 3-month intensive meditation retreat. After completion of the first retreat, the wait-list control participants received the 3-month meditation retreat. All participants were measured before, during, and after the retreat and 6 months, and 1.5 and 7 years later with a response inhibition task. In this task, participants were asked to respond when a long line is present and not respond when an infrequent short line was presented. This task measures high level thinking including attention, response inhibition, discrimination, and vigilance.

 

They found that during and following the retreat there were large significant improvements in perceptual discrimination, response inhibition, vigilance, and response time variance as measured in the response inhibition task. Importantly, these improvements were maintained for as much as 7 years after the completion of the retreat. Overall, older participants had age-related declines in accuracy. But, older participants who reported large amounts of continued meditation practice, did not have declines.

 

This study documents that the effects of a 3-month intensive meditation retreat on cognitive ability are large and lasting. In addition, they demonstrate that age-related declines in cognitive performance can be prevented by continued meditation practice. In this study, these effects were observed longitudinally, in the same individuals over time, supplementing the previous findings with cross-sectional studies of groups of individuals of different ages. This suggests that the loss of high-level thought ability does not necessarily inevitably have to decline as we age. It can be improved and sustained with meditation practice.

 

So, improve cognition and reduce age-related cognitive decline with meditation.

 

“What we do know is that long-term engagement in mindfulness meditation may enhance cognitive performance in older adults, and that with persistent practice, these benefits may be sustained. That’s great news for the millions of aging adults working to combat the negative effects of aging on the brain.” – B. grace Bullock

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Zanesco, A.P., King, B.G., MacLean, K.A. et al. Cognitive Aging and Long-Term Maintenance of Attentional Improvements Following Meditation Training. J Cogn Enhanc (2018) 2: 259. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41465-018-0068-1

 

Abstract

Sustained attention is effortful, demanding, and subject to limitations associated with age-related cognitive decline. Researchers have sought to examine whether attentional capacities can be enhanced through directed mental training, with a number of studies now offering evidence that meditation practice may facilitate generalized improvements in this domain. However, the extent to which attentional gains are maintained following periods of dedicated meditation training and how such improvements are moderated by processes of aging have yet to be characterized. In a prior report (Sahdra et al., Emotion 11, 299–312, 2011), we examined attentional performance on a sustained response inhibition task before, during, and after 3-months of full-time meditation. We now extend this prior investigation across additional follow-up assessments occurring up to 7 years after the conclusion of training. Performance improvements observed during periods of intensive practice were partially maintained several years later. Importantly, aging-related decrements in measures of response inhibition accuracy and reaction time variability were moderated by levels of continued meditation practice across the follow-up period. The present study is the first to offer evidence that intensive and continued meditation practice is associated with enduring improvements in sustained attention and response inhibition, with the potential to alter longitudinal trajectories of cognitive change across the lifespan.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41465-018-0068-1