Meditate to Prevent Memory Loss

Meditation has long been considered a useful tool in maintaining health; now a recent study suggests that meditation may play a role in helping to stem memory loss as people age.

About the study

The study, which appears in the medical journal Frontiers in Psychology, is entitled "Forever Young(er): potential age-defying effects of long-term meditation on gray matter atrophy."

The study was conducted by scientists from the University of California at Los Angeles and the Australian National University.

In the study, researchers looked at 100 participants between 24 and 77 years of age. Half of the participants had meditated for an average of 20 years (a minimum of 4, a maximum of 46), while the other half essentially did not meditate. The gray matter of all of the participants was studied, and the results showed that the deterioration of gray matter in the group which meditated was substantially less than in the group that did not meditate.

What is gray matter?

Gray matter is the tissue in the brain that connects neurons, and it is involved in processing information. Density of gray matter is typically associated with higher brain function and intelligence.

Surprised by results

Dr. Florian Kurth, one of the lead researchers, stated that "we expected rather small and distinct effects located in some of the regions that had previously been associated with meditating. Instead, what we actually observed was a widespread effect of meditation that encompassed regions throughout the entire brain."

While further studies are needed to confirm these results, this first study is quite promising. Memory loss is becoming a more serious issue among seniors; as life expectancy increases, so does the possibility of age-related memory loss.

The effects of meditation are thought to go beyond improving memory and cognitive function. Because meditation is associated with stress reduction, meditation is often recommended to help prevent or treat cardiac-related issues and to improve general quality of life.

Consider encouraging the senior loved ones in your life to add meditation to their daily routines; there is typically no downside to it, and many who engage in regular meditation find that it makes a significant difference in their lives.​

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