When researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center trained patients with mild dementia to meditate, the patients showed “significantly improved functional connectivity in the default mode network (DMN),” after just 8 weeks. DMN is the brain system related to remembering the past and envisioning the future. Beyond this, meditators showed slower shrinking of the hippocampus than non-meditators with similar levels of dementia. Read more about the study here.
Meanwhile, University of Oregon scientists Michael Posner and Yi-Yuang Tang found that “axonal density” – more brain-signaling connections – can be seen in meditators’ brains after just one month of daily meditation practice. Not only are there more connections, but those connections are protected by more myelin as well. Myelin is the protective fatty tissue that surrounds the axons. Read more about this study here.
We know very little about treating or avoiding dementia, so this new research is ground breaking.
We don’t know much about factors driving dementia. There’s more to it than just age; people who suffer from Alzheimer’s often don’t get cancer. So there may be a complex interplay of genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors at work. Most doctors will tell you that to avoid Alzheimer’s, you should:
- not smoke
- stay intellectually engaged
- be socially active
- avoid excess weight
- eat healthy
While all of these are good advice, none have shown measurable, rapid impact like meditation.
According to Dr. Zoran Josipovic, a researcher and adjunct professor at NYU, “Meditation research, particularly in the last 10 years or so, has shown to be very promising because it points to an ability of the brain to change and optimise in a way we didn’t know previously was possible.”
You can start meditating today by following the Power 20 Method’s technique, which is described here.