If you’re worried about memory loss, you might want to take up yoga. A new study suggests that the ancient relaxation techniques of yoga and meditation may help lower risk for mild cognitive impairment ("MCI", memory loss that is worse than normal for your age) and dementia.
Researchers recruited 25 older adults and asked them to participate in a battery of cognitive tests and undergo brain scans to record their brain activity. The study participants were then divided into two groups:
Results of the Study
At the conclusion of the study, participants were tested again and underwent a second round of brain scans. According to a paper on the study published online April 5, 2016 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers found that:
The brain scans revealed that the yoga participants—but not the memory enhancement participants—showed evidence of significant changes in brain connectivity in line with their verbal and visual-spatial memory improvements. “If you are trying to improve your memory or offset the risk for developing memory loss or dementia, a regular practice of yoga and meditation could be a simple, safe, and low-cost solution to improving your brain fitness,” said the lead author of the study.
This article originally appeared in Mind, Mood & Memory, a publication of the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital dedicated to maintaining mental fitness from middle age and beyond.