Newberg, A. B., et al. (2014). Meditation and neurodegenerative diseases. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1307(1), 112-123. Full text.
Abstract. Neurodegenerative diseases pose a significant problem for the healthcare system, doctors, and patients. With an aging population, more and more individuals are developing neurodegenerative diseases and there are few treatment options at the present time. Meditation techniques present an interesting potential adjuvant treatment for patients with neurodegenerative diseases and have the advantage of being inexpensive, and easy to teach and perform.
There is increasing research evidence to support the application of meditation techniques to help improve cognition and memory in patients with neurodegenerative diseases. This review discusses the current data on meditation, memory, and attention, and the potential applications of meditation techniques in patients with neurodegenerative diseases.
Hölzel, B.K., et al. (2011). Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Research, 191 (1), 36-43. Full text (unedited manuscript).
From the Abstract: Therapeutic interventions that incorporate training in mindfulness meditation have become increasingly popular, but to date little is known about neural mechanisms associated with these interventions. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), one of the most widely used mindfulness training programs, has been reported to produce positive effects on psychological well-being and to ameliorate symptoms of a number of disorders.
Here, we report a controlled longitudinal study to investigate pre-post changes in brain gray matter concentration attributable to participation in an MBSR program. Anatomical magnetic resonance (MR) images from 16 healthy, meditation-naïve participants were obtained before and after they underwent the 8-week program.
Changes in gray matter concentration were investigated using voxel-based morphometry, and compared with a waiting list control group of 17 individuals. Analyses in a priori regions of interest confirmed increases in gray matter concentration within the left hippocampus. Whole brain analyses identified increases in the posterior cingulate cortex, the temporo-parietal junction, and the cerebellum in the MBSR group compared with the controls.
The results suggest that participation in MBSR is associated with changes in gray matter concentration in brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.
In a paper published in Proceedings of Graphics Interface, researchers suggest that meditation training can help people working with information stay on tasks longer with fewer distractions and also improves memory and reduces stress.
The researchers recruited three groups of managers for the study. One received eight weeks of mindfulness-based meditation training; another received eight weeks of body relaxation training. Members of the control group received no training at first, then after eight weeks were given the same training as the first group.
Before and after each eight-week period, the participants were given a stressful test of their multitasking abilities to measure their speed, accuracy and the extent to which they switched tasks. Participants’ self-reported levels of stress and memory while performing the tasks were also noted.
The results were significant: read more.