Two simple mind-body practices improved cognition and helped reverse perceived memory loss in older adults with subjective cognitive decline, in a pilot study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Researchers randomly assigned 60 older adults with subjective cognitive decline—a strong predictor of Alzheimer’s disease—to a program of either beginner meditation (Kirtan Kriya) or music listening over 6 months. For the first 3 months, participants were directed to practice their intervention 12 minutes daily. For the remaining 3 months, participants were told to engage in their intervention at their discretion.
At 3 months, both the meditation and music listening groups showed marked and significant improvements in subjective memory function and objective cognitive performance, researchers found. What’s more, the substantial gains were maintained or improved at 6 months.
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“Findings of this preliminary randomized controlled trial suggest practice of meditation or music listening can significantly enhance both subjective memory function and objective cognitive performance in adults with subjective cognitive decline,” researchers concluded, “and may offer promise for improving outcomes in this population.”
Researchers had previously found that both interventions also improved sleep, mood, stress, well-being, and quality of life—with gains particularly pronounced in participants who practiced meditation. In that study, too, improvements were maintained or improved 3 months after baseline.
Innes KE, Selfe TK, Khalsa DS, Kandati S. Meditation and music improve memory and cognitive function in adults with subjective cognitive decline: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2017;56:899-916.
Meditation and music may help reverse early memory loss in adults at risk for Alzheimer’s disease [press release]. Lansdale, PA: IOS Press; January 23, 2017.