Improve Episodic Memory and Alter Brain Activity during Memory Retrieval with Mindfulness

Improve Episodic Memory and Alter Brain Activity during Memory Retrieval with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“A critical part of attention (and working memory capacity) is being able to ignore distraction. There has been growing evidence that meditation training (in particular mindfulness meditation) helps develop attentional control, and that this can start to happen very quickly.” – About Memory

 

There has accumulated a large amount of research demonstrating that mindfulness has significant benefits for psychological, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. One way that mindfulness practices may produce these benefits is by altering the brain. 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.

 

One way to observe the effects of meditation techniques is to measure the effects of each technique on the brain’s activity. This can be done by recording the electroencephalogram (EEG). The brain produces rhythmic electrical activity that can be recorded from the scalp. It is usually separated into frequency bands. Delta activity consists of oscillations in the 0.5-3 cycles per second band. Theta activity in the EEG consists of oscillations in the 4-8 cycles per second band. Alpha activity consists of oscillations in the 8-12 cycles per second band. Beta activity consists of oscillations in the 13-30 cycles per second band while Gamma activity occurs in the 30-100 cycles per second band.

 

In today’s Research News article “Increases in Theta Oscillatory Activity During Episodic Memory Retrieval Following Mindfulness Meditation Training.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6738165/), Nyhus and colleagues recruited adult participants and randomly assigned them to a wait-list control condition or to receive 4-weeks of once a week for 1 hour of mindfulness meditation training along with 20 minutes of daily home practice. They were measured for episodic memory and mindfulness before and after training. They learned words either by imagining a place associated with them or rating their pleasantness. The electroencephalogram (EEG) was measured from the scalp as the participants were engaged in an episodic memory task.

 

They found that meditation training produced a significant increase in mindfulness, especially the observe, describe, and act with awareness facets. The meditation group were also significantly better at identifying the source (place or pleasantness) of the word in the episodic memory task. With the EEG they found that the meditation group after training had significant increases in power in the Theta frequency band (4-7.5 hz.) in the frontal and parietal cortical areas of the brain. The increase in theta power were correlated with the level of the describe facet of mindfulness.

 

Theta power has been previously found to increase during tasks that test episodic memory. That was true here also. But in the present study the increases in theta power were greater after mindfulness meditation training. This suggests that the training altered the nervous system making it more responsive to episodic memories. The fact that mindfulness has been found to improve memory and that source memory was improved in the present study would appear to support this assertion. Hence, it would appear that mindfulness meditation improves episodic memory by enhancing brain processing of memories.

 

So, improve episodic memory and alter brain activity during memory retrieval with mindfulness.

 

“The meditation-and-the-brain research has been rolling in steadily for a number of years now, . . . . The practice appears to have an amazing variety of neurological benefits – from changes in grey matter volume to reduced activity in the “me” centers of the brain to enhanced connectivity between brain regions.” – Alice Walton

 

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

 

Nyhus, E., Engel, W. A., Pitfield, T. D., & Vakkur, I. (2019). Increases in Theta Oscillatory Activity During Episodic Memory Retrieval Following Mindfulness Meditation Training. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 13, 311. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2019.00311

 

Abstract

Mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve episodic memory and increase theta oscillations which are known to play a role in episodic memory retrieval. The present study examined the effect of mindfulness meditation on episodic memory retrieval and theta oscillations. Using a longitudinal design, subjects in the mindfulness meditation experimental group who underwent 4 weeks of mindfulness meditation training and practice were compared to a waitlist control group. During the pre-training and post-training experimental sessions, subjects completed the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) and studied adjectives and either imagined a scene (Place Task) or judged its pleasantness (Pleasant Task). During the recognition test, subjects decided which task was performed with each word (“Old Place Task” or “Old Pleasant Task”) or “New.” FFMQ scores and source discrimination were greater post-training than pre-training in the mindfulness meditation experimental group. Electroencephalography (EEG) results revealed that for the mindfulness meditation experimental group theta power was greater post-training than pre-training in right frontal and left parietal channels and changes in FFMQ scores correlated with changes in theta oscillations in right frontal channels (n = 20). The present results suggest that mindfulness meditation increases source memory retrieval and theta oscillations in a fronto-parietal network.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6738165/

 

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/

 

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/

 

High Mindfulness and Low Anxiety is Associated with High Level Cognitive Ability

High Mindfulness and Low Anxiety is Associated with High Level Cognitive Ability

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness meditation has been found to elicit a positive impact on cognitive performance and abilities such as attention, memory, cognitive flexibility, and quality of task performance.” – Integrative Therapeutics

 

There is a tremendous amount of information present at any moment. It is a challenge to the nervous system to sort it out and pay attention to only the most significant information. This involves ignoring competing or conflicting stimuli and concentrating on only the most salient and pertinent stimuli. Mindfulness training can help. It involves a greater emphasis on attention to the immediate stimulus environment. So, it builds the capacity to focus on what is transpiring in the present moment. Mindful people generally have better attentional abilities and have fewer intrusive thoughts and less mind wandering. As a result, mindfulness has been shown to be associated with differences in thought processes, increases creativity, and improves cognitive processes.

 

In general, anxiety tends to interfere with high level thinking; interfering with cognitive ability. So, it would seem that people high in mindfulness and also low in anxiety would perform better on cognitive tasks compared to people low in mindfulness and high in anxiety. In today’s Research News article “Better Cognitive Performance Is Associated With the Combination of High Trait Mindfulness and Low Trait Anxiety.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00627/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_640301_69_Psycho_20180515_arts_A ), Jaiswal and colleagues examine this prediction.

 

They recruited adults aged 18 to 30 years through Facebook and measured them for mindfulness and anxiety. They identified participants who were 0.85 standard deviations above the mean in mindfulness and 0.85 standard deviations below the mean in anxiety (High Mindfulness – Low Anxiety) and participants who were 0.85 standard deviations below the mean in mindfulness and 0.85 standard deviations above the mean in anxiety (Low Mindfulness – High Anxiety). These participants were asked to perform a flanker distraction task to measure attentional ability, a Stroop color test to measure interference with attention, and a visual working memory task.

 

They found that the High Mindfulness – Low Anxiety group performed significantly better than the Low Mindfulness – High Anxiety group on the Stroop attention interference task and the visual working memory task, and overall working memory capacity. The results confirmed the initial hypothesis that individuals with a combination of high mindfulness and low anxiety have superior attentional and cognitive abilities. Hence, it appears that mindfulness improves cognition while anxiety interferes with it.

 

The study was a cross sectional design and neither mindfulness nor anxiety were manipulated. Thus, causation cannot be determined. The results, though, support the initiation of a study where groups are trained in mindfulness and exposed to anxiety evoking situations to determine the causal connections of the combinations of mindfulness and anxiety on the ability for high level attentional ability and thought processes.

 

Nevertheless, it appears that high mindfulness and low anxiety is associated with high level attentional and cognitive ability.

 

“new research now suggests that the mind may be easier to cognitively train than we previously believed. Psychologists studying the effects of a meditation technique known as “mindfulness ” found that meditation-trained participants showed a significant improvement in their critical cognitive skills (and performed significantly higher in cognitive tests than a control group) after only four days of training for only 20 minutes each day.” – Science daily

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Jaiswal S, Tsai S-Y, Juan C-H, Liang W-K and Muggleton NG (2018) Better Cognitive Performance Is Associated With the Combination of High Trait Mindfulness and Low Trait Anxiety. Front. Psychol. 9:627. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00627

 

There are several ways in which cognitive and neurophysiological parameters have been consistently used to explain the variability in cognitive ability between people. However, little has been done to explore how such cognitive abilities are influenced by differences in personality traits. Dispositional mindfulness and anxiety are two inversely linked traits that have been independently attributed to a range of cognitive functions. The current study investigated these two traits in combination along with measures of the attentional network, cognitive inhibition, and visual working memory (VWM) capacity. A total of 392 prospective participants were screened to select two experimental groups each of 30 healthy young adults, with one having high mindfulness and low anxiety (HMLA) and the second having low mindfulness and high anxiety (LMHA). The groups performed an attentional network task, a color Stroop task, and a change detection test of VWM capacity. Results showed that the HMLA group was more accurate than the LMHA group on the Stroop and change detection tasks. Additionally, the HMLA group was more sensitive in detecting changes and had a higher WMC than the LMHA group. This research adds to the literature that has investigated mindfulness and anxiety independently with a comprehensive investigation of the effects of these two traits in conjunction on executive function.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00627/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_640301_69_Psycho_20180515_arts_A

 

Improve Stress, Sleep, and Memory with Mindfulness

Improve Stress, Sleep, and Memory with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Meditation trains you to be mindful of your incoming thoughts, weakening both the physiological link and strength that each thought has on you, as well as decreasing the frequency of incoming sleep-preventing thoughts. Meditation forces the worrywart, insomnia causing mind to shift into the present moment, while realizing that the day is now over, and tomorrow is not yet here.” – EOC Institute

 

It is estimated that over half of Americans sleep too little due to stress. As a result, people today sleep 20% less than they did 100 years ago. Over 70 million Americans suffer from disorders of sleep and about half of these have a chronic disorder. It has been estimated that about 4% of Americans revert to sleeping pills. But, these do not always produce high quality sleep and can have problematic side effects. Not having a good night’s sleep has adverse effects upon the individual’s health, well-being, and happiness and can even lead to memory problems. So, there is a need to find better methods to improve sleep. Mindfulness-based practices have been reported to improve sleep amount and quality, reduce stress and improve memory. It is not known, however, how these effects of mindfulness are related.

 

In today’s Research News article “Dispositional Mindfulness and Memory Problems: The Role of Perceived Stress and Sleep Quality.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5363402/ ), Brisbon and Lachman measured adult participants in the Boston Longitudinal Study for mindfulness, perceived stress, sleep quality, memory problems, physical health, openness, and neuroticism. The relationships between these measured were then explored with a regression analysis.

 

They found that stress was a key, with higher levels of perceived stress associated with poorer sleep quality and greater memory problems and neuroticism. Mindfulness was only slightly associated with lower perceived stress and neuroticism and greater openness and no significant relationship with sleep quality. A mediation analysis revealed that mindfulness was associated with lower memory problems indirectly by being associated with lower perceived stress which was associated with memory problems. Hence, high mindfulness was related to lower perceived stress which was, in turn, related to memory problems.

 

It should be kept in mind that the preset study was correlational and no conclusions about causation can be reached. But, these results suggest that stress is a key factor in sleep and memory problems and that mindfulness, by being associated with lower stress, is related to improved memory. It remains for future research to manipulate mindfulness and thereby determine if there are causal connections. But, given the increased memory problems associated with aging, it would be important to establish whether mindfulness may be helpful in delaying or reversing the deterioration of memory.

 

So, improve stress, sleep, and memory with mindfulness.

 

“We were surprised to find that the effect of mindfulness meditation on sleep quality was large and above and beyond the effect of the sleep hygiene education program, Not only did the researchers find that mindfulness could help reduce sleep problems in older adults, but that “this effect on sleep appears to carry over into reducing daytime fatigue and depression symptoms.” – David S. Black

 

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

 

Brisbon, N. M., & Lachman, M. E. (2017). Dispositional Mindfulness and Memory Problems: The Role of Perceived Stress and Sleep Quality. Mindfulness, 8(2), 379–386. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0607-8

 

Abstract

There is a growing body of evidence exploring the beneficial effects of mindfulness on stress, sleep quality, and memory, though the mechanisms involved are less certain. The present study explored the roles of perceived stress and sleep quality as potential mediators between dispositional mindfulness and subjective memory problems. Data were from a Boston area subsample of the Midlife in the United States study (MIDUS-II) assessed in 2004–2006, and again approximately one year later (N=299). As expected, higher dispositional mindfulness was associated with lower perceived stress and better sleep quality. There was no direct association found between mindfulness and subjective memory problems, however, there was a significant indirect effect through perceived stress, although not with sleep quality. The present findings suggest that perceived stress may play a mediating role between dispositional mindfulness and subjective memory problems, in that those with higher mindfulness generally report experiencing less stress than those with lower mindfulness, which may be protective of memory problems in everyday life.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5363402/

 

Mindfulness Plus Reflection Training Improves Thinking in Pre-School Children

Mindfulness Plus Reflection Training Improves Thinking in Pre-School Children

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“When we teach mindfulness to children, we are sharing with them skillful ways of relating to life’s uncomfortable and challenging moments. The earlier we do so in their young lives, the greater the opportunity to help them cultivate resilience and develop and refine their mindfulness practice as they mature.” – Scott Rogers

 

Childhood is a miraculous period during which the child is dynamically absorbing information from every aspect of its environment. This occurs almost without any intervention from the adults as the child appears to be programmed to learn. It is here that behaviors, knowledge, skills, and attitudes are developed that shape the individual. But, what is absorbed depends on the environment. If it is replete with speech, the child will learn speech, if it is replete with trauma, the child will learn fear, if it is replete with academic skills the child will learn these, and if it is replete with interactions with others, the child will learn social skills.

 

Pre-School and elementary school are environments that have a huge effect on development. They are also excellent times to teach children the skills to adaptively negotiate its environment. Mindfulness training in school, at all levels has been shown to have very positive effects. These include academic, cognitive, psychological, and social domains. Importantly, mindfulness training in school appears to improve the student’s self-concept. It also improves attentional ability and reduces stress, which are keys to successful learning in school. Since, what occurs in these early years and in school can have such a profound, long-term effect on the child it is important to further study the impact of mindfulness training on the development of thinking skills in pre-school children.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Plus Reflection Training: Effects on Executive Function in Early Childhood.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00208/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_556427_69_Psycho_20180301_arts_A ), Zelazo and colleagues recruited preschool children (4-5 years old) from two schools with predominantly children from low-income families and randomly assigned them to either Mindfulness + Reflection, Literacy, or Business as Usual conditions. Mindfulness + Reflection and Literacy training occurred daily for 6 weeks for 24 minutes per day. Mindfulness + Reflection training was adapted for young children and involved mindfulness and relaxation exercises, attention to thoughts and emotions, and cognitive enrichment programs; particularly attention training. The literacy program was adapted from the OWL (Opening the World of Learning) program.

 

The children were measured before the 6-week training period for vocabulary, math skills, IQ, and reading readiness. The children were measured before and after the 6-week training period and 4-6 weeks later for executive function, theory of mind, and literacy with measures adapted for young children. Teachers also rated the children for behaviors indicating surgency, negative affect, and effortful control and for attachment/relationships, behavioral concerns, initiative, and self-control.

 

They found that after training most of the children in all groups showed significant improvements on many of the measures. But, the children participating in the Mindfulness + Reflection program had significantly greater increases in overall executive function scores including working memory measures. The literacy training group had significantly greater improvements in effortful control reflecting improvements in inhibitory control, attentional control, low intensity pleasure, and perceptual sensitivity. Hence, they found evidence that mindfulness training can improve thinking while literacy training can improve behavioral control in very young disadvantaged children.

 

Early childhood is a time of rapid brain development and cognitive abilities. Since, it’s been shown that mindfulness training can produces changes in the brains of adolescents and adults, it is likely that the training in early childhood also changes brain development, This is a very important period of development and improvements here may well affect the children for the rest of their lives. This may be particularly important for disadvantaged children potentially altering the trajectory of their lives,

 

This study is laudable as working with and measuring very young children is challenging and requires insight and creativity. But, research conducted during this dynamic phase of development is particularly important. Of course, much more work is needed. But these results are promising and lend support to conducting further work.

 

“There is an emerging body of research that indicates mindfulness can help children improve their abilities to pay attention, to calm down when they are upset and to make better decisions. In short, it helps with emotional regulation and cognitive focus.” – Sarah Rudell Beach

 

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

 

Zelazo PD, Forston JL, Masten AS and Carlson SM (2018) Mindfulness Plus Reflection Training: Effects on Executive Function in Early Childhood. Front. Psychol. 9:208. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00208

 

Executive function (EF) skills are essential for academic achievement, and poverty-related stress interferes with their development. This pre-test, post-test, follow-up randomized-control trial assessed the impact of an intervention targeting reflection and stress reduction on children’s EF skills. Preschool children (N = 218) from schools serving low-income families in two U.S. cities were randomly assigned to one of three options delivered in 30 small-group sessions over 6 weeks: Mindfulness + Reflection training; Literacy training; or Business as Usual (BAU). Sessions were conducted by local teachers trained in a literacy curriculum or Mindfulness + Reflection intervention, which involved calming activities and games that provided opportunities to practice reflection in the context of goal-directed problem solving. EF improved in all groups, but planned contrasts indicated that the Mindfulness + Reflection group significantly outperformed the BAU group at Follow-up (4 weeks post-test). No differences in EF were observed between the BAU and Literacy training groups. Results suggest that a brief, small-group, school-based intervention teaching mindfulness and reflection did not improve EF skills more than literacy training but is promising compared to BAU for improving EF in low-income preschool children several weeks following the intervention.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00208/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_556427_69_Psycho_20180301_arts_A

 

Increase Brain Matter and Memory in Aging with Tai Chi

 

Increase Brain Matter and Memory in Aging with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Tai Chi can be used as exercise to improve the body, as well as reversing the natural tendency for the brain to shrink with age.” – Functional Aging Institute

 

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.

 

Hence, there is some hope for age related cognitive decline, as there is evidence that it can be slowed. There are some indications that physical and mental exercise can reduce the rate of cognitive decline and lower the chances of dementia. For example, contemplative practices such as meditationyoga, and Tai Chi and Qigong have all been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve cognitive processes while gentle mindful exercises such as Tai Chi and Qigong have been shown to slow age related cognitive decline. It would seem reasonable to hypothesize that Tai Chi and Baduanjin practices might decrease age related decreases in cognitive ability and degeneration of the nervous system.

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai Chi Chuan and Baduanjin increase grey matter volume in older adults: a brain imaging study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5659386/ ), Tao and colleagues recruited healthy sedentary older adults (50-70 years of age) and randomly assigned them to receive either Tai Chi practice, Baduanjin practice (a very similar practice to Tai Chi), or no-treatment. Practice occurred for 12 weeks, 5 days per week, for 1 hour. Before and after training the participants underwent Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans of their brains. They were also measured for memory ability.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and control participants, the Tai Chi or Baduanjin practice participants had significant increases in the amount of grey matter in the left insula, left putamen, left parahippocampus/hippocampus, left amygdala, and left inferior temporal lobe. Hence, Tai Chi or Baduanjin practice appeared to produce increases in neural tissue. In addition, the Tai Chi or Baduanjin practice participants had significant increases in overall memory ability and visual reproduction memory. These improvements in memory were related to the increases in grey matter, with large increases in neural tissue associated with large improvements in memory. Hence, Tai Chi or Baduanjin practice not only increased neural tissue and memory, but the increases in both changed together in the same direction.

 

Caution must be taken in interpreting these results as the control condition was inactive. As a result, it cannot be determined if Tai Chi or Baduanjin practice per se or any form of exercise could produce comparable benefits. Further research is needed employing other forms of exercise to compare to the effects of Tai Chi or Baduanjin practice.

 

Nonetheless, these results are interesting and exciting. They suggest that Tai Chi or Baduanjin practice can reduce or possibly reverse brain degeneration and cognitive decline associated with aging. By engaging in these mindful movement practices aging individuals appear to preserve their brains and their mental ability. In addition, the fact that these practices are safe, convenient, low cost, and social suggests that they can be widely applied to the aging population.

 

So, increase brain matter and memory in aging with Tai Chi.

 

“Keep your brain younger longer by adding tai chi to your workout routine.” – Linda Melone

 

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

 

Tao, J., Liu, J., Liu, W., Huang, J., Xue, X., Chen, X., … Kong, J. (2017). Tai Chi Chuan and Baduanjin increase grey matter volume in older adults: a brain imaging study. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease : JAD, 60(2), 389–400. http://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-170477

 

Abstract

The aim of this study is to investigate and compare how 12-weeks of Tai Chi Chuan and Baduanjin exercise can modulate brain structure and memory function in older adults. Magnetic Resonance Imaging(MRI) and memory function measurements (Wechsler Memory Scale-Chinese revised, WMS-CR)were applied at both the beginning and end of the study. Results showed that both Tai Chi Chuan and Baduanjin could significantly increase grey matter volume (GMV) in the insula, medial temporal lobe (MTL), and putamen after 12-weeks of exercise. No significant differences were observed in grey matter volume (GMV) between the Tai Chi Chuan and Baduanjin groups. We also found that compared to healthy controls, Tai Chi Chuan and Baduanjin significantly improved visual reproduction subscores on the WMS-CR. Baduanjin also improved mental control, recognition, touch and comprehension memory subscores of the WMS-CR compared to the control group. Memory quotient (MQ)and visual reproduction subscores were both associated with GMV increases in the putamen and hippocampus. Our results demonstrate the potential of Tai Chi Chuan and Baduanjin exercise for the prevention of memory deficits in older adults.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5659386/

Slow Mental Decline in the Elderly with Tai Chi

Slow Mental Decline in the Elderly with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“improvement of heart function combined with increased muscular power meant that the martial art should be considered the preferred technique for elderly people to maintain good health.” – The Telegraph

 

We celebrate the increasing longevity of the population. But, aging is a mixed blessing. The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline of the body and the brain. Every system in the body deteriorates including cognitive function (thinking ability) and motor function with a decline in strength, flexibility, and balance. It is inevitable. In addition, many elderly experience withdrawal and isolation from social interactions. There is some hope as there is evidence that these declines can be slowed. For example, a healthy diet and a regular program of exercise can slow the physical and cognitive decline of the body with aging. Also, contemplative practices such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi or qigong have all been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline.

 

Tai Chi has been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevity. Tai Chi training is 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 Tai Chi practice been scrutinized with empirical research and found to be effective for an array of physical and psychological issues. Tai Chi has been shown to help the elderly improve attentionbalance, reducing fallsarthritiscognitive functionmemory, and reduce age related deterioration of the brain. Because Tai Chi 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.

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai Chi Improves Cognition and Plasma BDNF in Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Randomized Controlled Trial.”  Sungkarat and colleagues recruited elderly participants with mild cognitive impairments and randomly assigned them to either receive educational instruction related to cognitive impairment and fall prevention or practice Tai Chi at home guided by a 50-minute video, 3 times per week, for 6 months. They were measured at the beginning and end of training for cognitive performance, including memory, visuospatial ability, and executive function, and plasma markers for inflammation and neuroprotection, including plasma BDNF, TNF-α, and IL-10 levels.

 

They found that compared to baseline and control participants, the elderly who practiced Tai Chi had significantly improved levels of cognitive function, including improvements in memory and thinking ability (executive function). In addition, Tai Chi practice was found to significantly increase the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is a neurotrophic factor that works to protect the brain from deterioration and promote the growth of brain cells. Hence, they found that Tai Chi practice reduces cognitive decline with aging and increases neuroprotection.

 

The cognitive decline with aging has been associated with degeneration of neural tissues. On the other hand, mindfulness practices have been found to change the brain and protect it against age related decline. The present results add further evidence that mindfulness practices, Tai Chi  in particular, improves memory and cognitive performance and promotes neuroprotection in the elderly. The attractiveness of the low intensity, low cost, convenient, and socially fun nature of Tai Chi practice makes it a great treatment for the prevention of age related decline.

 

So, slow mental decline in the elderly with Tai Chi.

 

“Scientists . . . found increases in brain volume and improvements on tests of memory and thinking in Chinese seniors who practiced Tai Chi three times a week.” – Science Daily

 

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

 

Somporn Sungkarat, PhD, SirinunBoripuntakul, PhD, Sirinart Kumfu, PhD, Stephen R. Lord, PhD, Nipon Chattipakorn, MD, PhD. Tai Chi Improves Cognition and Plasma BDNF in Older Adults With Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair. First Published January 20, 2018, https://doi-org.ezproxy.shsu.edu/10.1177/15459683177536

 

Abstract

Background. Effects of Tai Chi (TC) on specific cognitive function and mechanisms by which TC may improve cognition in older adults with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (a-MCI) remain unknown. Objective. To examine the effects of TC on cognitive functions and plasma biomarkers (brain-derived neurotrophic factor [BDNF], tumor necrosis factor-α [TNF-α], and interleukin-10 [IL-10]) in a-MCI. Methods. A total of 66 older adults with a-MCI (mean age = 67.9 years) were randomized to either a TC (n = 33) or a control group (n = 33). Participants in the TC group learned TC with a certified instructor and then practiced at home for 50 min/session, 3 times/wk for 6 months. The control group received educational material that covered information related to cognition. The primary outcome was cognitive performance, including Logical Memory (LM) delayed recall, Block Design, Digit Span, and Trail Making Test B minus A (TMT B-A). The secondary outcomes were plasma biomarkers, including BDNF, TNF-α, and IL-10. Results. At the end of the trial, performance on the LM and TMT B-A was significantly better in the TC group compared with the control group after adjusting for age, gender, and education (P < .05). Plasma BDNF level was significantly increased for the TC group, whereas the other outcome measures were similar between the 2 groups after adjusting for age and gender (P < .05). Conclusions. TC training significantly improved memory and the mental switching component of executive function in older adults with a-MCI, possibly via an upregulation of BDNF.

http://journals.sagepub.com.ezproxy.shsu.edu/doi/full/10.1177/1545968317753682

Improve Psychological Well-Being in the Elderly with Mild Memory Loss with Meditation

Improve Psychological Well-Being in the Elderly with Mild Memory Loss with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all the answers we’re looking for when it comes to ending memory loss could be gained by simply doing KK for 12 minutes each morning? Perhaps that magic bullet is already here, waiting to be discovered in each and every one of us after all. Now, wouldn’t that be grand?” – Dharma Singh Khalsa

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. It cannot be avoided. Our mental abilities may also decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem solving ability. These are called age related cognitive decline. This occurs to everyone as they age, but to varying degrees. Some deteriorate into a dementia, while others maintain high levels of cognitive capacity into very advanced ages. It is estimated that around 30% of the elderly show significant age related cognitive decline. These cognitive declines markedly increase the risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. The declines occur along with sleep disruptions declines in mental health and quality of life, which in turn, appear to exacerbate the decline.

 

There is some hope, however, for those who are prone to deterioration as there is evidence that these cognitive declines can be slowed. For example, a healthy diet and a regular program of exercise can slow the physical decline of the body with aging. Also, contemplative practices such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi or qigong have all been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging. Indeed, mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Meditation versus Music Listening on Perceived Stress, Mood, Sleep, and Quality of Life in Adults with Early Memory Loss: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5649740/ ), Innes and colleagues recruited community living adults over 50 years of age and experiencing memory problems and slight cognitive decline. They were randomly assigned to 12-week, 12 minutes per day, programs of classical music listening or Kirtan Kriya meditation, performed while sitting comfortably with eyes closed. At the first session the participants received 35-minute instruction on relaxation and their specific program and then provided DVDs for daily home practice. Kirtan Kriya meditation included signing a mantra, successive finger touching and visualization exercises. After the 12 weeks of practice participants were free to continue practicing if they wished. They were measured before and after the 12-week programs and 14 weeks later for body size, sleep quality, perceived stress, health-related quality of life, psychological well-being, mood, memory, and cognitive performance.

 

Retention and participation were high, with 92% of the music listening participants and 88% of the meditation participants completing the program. Participants completed 93% of the required session and 73% of the optional sessions during the second 14-week period. This indicates that the participants found the programs enjoyable and worth their time and effort.

 

Over the 12-week program, both groups showed significant improvements in sleep quality, perceived stress, health-related quality of life, psychological well-being, and mood. These improvements were either sustained or further improved over the subsequent 14 weeks. The meditation group had significantly greater improvements than the music listening group in perceived stress, mood, psychological well-being, and mental health quality of life. In addition, the greater the improvements in mood, stress, sleep, well-being, and quality of life, the greater the improvements in memory function. Hence, the two forms of relaxation produced improvements in the participants well-being which were related to improvements in memory. But, meditation had a greater impact then music listening.

 

These results are quite remarkable that such simple practices for only 12 minutes per day can have such profound effects on the well-being of aging individuals with slight cognitive decline. This could potentially delay of lower the likelihood that the decline will continue into dementia of Alzheimer’s Disease. It is important that the effects were lasting and participation high, both of which suggest that the meditation program can be easily and inexpensively applied to large groups of community-based aging individuals.

 

So, improve psychological well-being in the elderly with mild memory loss with meditation

 

“Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) can affect up to 20% of the population at any one time—and half of them will progress to full-on dementia. Now, a recent study . . .  finds as little as 15 minutes of daily meditation can significantly slow that progression.” – Nina Elias

 

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

 

Innes, K. E., Selfe, T. K., Khalsa, D. S., & Kandati, S. (2016). Effects of Meditation versus Music Listening on Perceived Stress, Mood, Sleep, and Quality of Life in Adults with Early Memory Loss: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease : JAD, 52(4), 1277–1298. http://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-151106

 

Abstract

Background

Older adults with subjective cognitive decline (SCD) are at increased risk not only for Alzheimer’s disease, but for poor mental health, impaired sleep, and diminished quality of life (QOL), which in turn, contribute to further cognitive decline, highlighting the need for early intervention.

Objective

In this randomized controlled trial, we assessed the effects of two 12-week relaxation programs, Kirtan Kriya Meditation (KK) and music listening (ML), on perceived stress, sleep, mood, and health-related QOL in older adults with SCD.

Methods

Sixty community-dwelling older adults with SCD were randomized to a KK or ML program and asked to practice 12 minutes daily for 12 weeks, then at their discretion for the following 3 months. At baseline, 12 weeks, and 26 weeks, perceived stress, mood, psychological well-being, sleep quality, and health-related QOL were measured using well-validated instruments.

Results

Fifty-three participants (88%) completed the 6-month study. Participants in both groups showed significant improvement at 12 weeks in psychological well-being and in multiple domains of mood and sleep quality (p’s ≤ 0.05). Relative to ML, those assigned to KK showed greater gains in perceived stress, mood, psychological well-being, and QOL-Mental Health (p’s ≤ 0.09). Observed gains were sustained or improved at 6 months, with both groups showing marked and significant improvement in all outcomes. Changes were unrelated to treatment expectancies.

Conclusions

Findings suggest that practice of a simple meditation or ML program may improve stress, mood, well-being, sleep, and QOL in adults with SCD, with benefits sustained at 6 months and gains that were particularly pronounced in the KK group.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5649740/

Improve Memory and Frontal Lobe Function in Older Adults with Mind-Body Practices

Improve Memory and Frontal Lobe Function in Older Adults with Mind-Body Practices

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Scientists . . . found increases in brain volume and improvements on tests of memory and thinking in Chinese seniors who practiced Tai Chi three times a week.” – Science Daily

 

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 area. and have found that meditation practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits.

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. Starting in the 20s there is a progressive decrease in the volume and activity of the brain as the years go by. Researchers 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, yoga and Tai Chi have all been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners. A practice, similar to Tai Chi, Baduanjin is a mind-body training consisted of 8 movements for limbs, body-trunk, and eye movements. But it has not been evaluated for application to aging individuals.

Because Tai Chi and Baduanjin are not strenuous, involving slow gentle movements, and are safe, having no appreciable side effects, they are appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion.

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai Chi Chuan and Baduanjin Mind-Body Training Changes Resting-State Low-Frequency Fluctuations in the Frontal Lobe of Older Adults: A Resting-State fMRI Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5670503/ ), Tao and colleagues recruited older sedentary adults (50 to 70 years of age) and randomly assigned them to either a no-treatment control who were provided health information or to practice either Tai Chi or Baduanjin mind-body training for 12 weeks, one hour per day, five days per week. Participants were measured before and after training for memory and cognitive functions. They also underwent functional-Magnetic Resonance Imaging (f-MRI).

 

They found that the Tai Chi and Baduanjin groups did not differ, but, in comparison to baseline and the education control group they had significant (18%-24%) increases in memory performance after training. The brain scans demonstrated that, in comparison to the education control group the Baduanjin group had significant increases in activity in the low frequency range in the Medial Prefrontal Cortex while the Tai Chi group had significant increases in activity in the low frequency range in the Dorsal Lateral Prefrontal Cortex. Importantly, they found that the greater the increase in activity in the Prefrontal Areas the greater the improvement in memory.

 

Hence, the results showed that both mind-body practices of Tai Chi and Baduanjin improved memory in older adults in association with increases in Prefrontal Lobe activity. The Prefrontal cortex has been associated previously with memory, attention, and high-level thinking (executive function). The present results suggest that the mind-body practices of Tai Chi and Baduanjin act to improve memory in older adults by producing neuroplastic changes that increase activity in the brain’s Prefrontal Areas. Interestingly, the results also show that the two mind-body practices may act on different mechanisms in the brain; with Tai Chi acting on the medial areas of the Prefrontal Cortex while Baduanjin acting on the Dorsal Lateral areas.

 

Memory deteriorates with aging and this can progress to severe memory impairments and dementia. The results of this study suggest that engagement in the mind-body practices of Tai Chi and Baduanjin may be able to slow or prevent that decline by strengthening brain processing in the Prefrontal Cortex. Since both Tai Chi and Baduanjin are simple and safe exercises that can be easily learned and practiced at home alone or in groups, they are economical and scalable practices to improve memory during aging. As such, they should be recommended for older adults.

 

So, improve memory and frontal lobe function in older adults with mind-body practices.

 

“Because Tai Chi can be done indoors or out, and as a group activity or by yourself, it suits both people who like to work out alone at home and those who prefer to get their exercise in a social setting.” – Mark Huntsman

 

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

 

Tao, J., Chen, X., Liu, J., Egorova, N., Xue, X., Liu, W., … Kong, J. (2017). Tai Chi Chuan and Baduanjin Mind-Body Training Changes Resting-State Low-Frequency Fluctuations in the Frontal Lobe of Older Adults: A Resting-State fMRI Study. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11, 514. http://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2017.00514

 

Abstract

Age-related cognitive decline is a significant public health concern. Recently, non-pharmacological methods, such as physical activity and mental training practices, have emerged as promising low-cost methods to slow the progression of age-related memory decline. In this study, we investigated if Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) and Baduanjin modulated the fractional amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations (fALFF) in different frequency bands (low-frequency: 0.01–0.08 Hz; slow-5: 0.01–0.027 Hz; slow-4: 0.027–0.073 Hz) and improved memory function. Older adults were recruited for the randomized study. Participants in the TCC and Baduanjin groups received 12 weeks of training (1 h/day for 5 days/week). Participants in the control group received basic health education. Each subject participated in memory tests and fMRI scans at the beginning and end of the experiment. We found that compared to the control group: (1) TCC and Baduanjin groups demonstrated significant improvements in memory function; (2) TCC increased fALFF in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) in the slow-5 and low-frequency bands; and (3) Baduanjin increased fALFF in the medial PFC in the slow-5 and low-frequency bands. This increase was positively associated with memory function improvement in the slow-5 and low-frequency bands across the TCC and Baduanjin groups. Our results suggest that TCC and Baduanjin may work through different brain mechanisms to prevent memory decline due to aging.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5670503/