As we reported last year, research into meditation is really gathering pace and is suggesting that the practice has some immediate and remarkable benefits for our cognitive abilities that are clearly reflected in changes in brain function.
Most of the lab work has focused on how meditation enhances attention while most of the clinical research work on meditation has focused on its ability to prevent relapse in severe depression.
However, Newberg mentions some ongoing work where they’re attempting to apply some of the lab work to boosting cognitive function in people who presumably have dementia or age-related cognitive difficulties:
Scientists are researching, for example, what elements of meditation may help manage stress and improve memory. How breathing and meditation techniques can contribute to health and wellness. For example, my lab is now conducting a study where 15 older adults with memory problems are practicing Kirtan Kriya meditation during 8 weeks, and we have found very promising preliminary outcomes in terms of the impact on brain function. This work is being funded by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, but we have submitted a grant request to the National Institute of Health as well.
Also, I just that Time magazine had a special issue on the practice and science of meditation in 2003 which is fully available online, including a funky, if not slightly over-simplified, guide to the neuroanatomy of meditation.