Updated February 28, 2014.
Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital are testing an ancient technique of mantra-based meditation, Kirtan Kriya (KK), and findings show that it has the potential to slow or prevent memory loss in adults.
Tests Show that Meditation Improves Memory.
Mantra meditation involves repeating words with phonetic significance and is based on the Kundalini yoga tradition. Researchers have discovered that this type of meditation can increase cerebral blood flow and ultimately improve patients’ emotional state.
Based on an article by EmaxHealth,
Andrew Newberg MD, director of research at the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine, led an experiment with 15 older adults. The sample group had memory problems ranging from mild age-associated memory impairment to mild impairment with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. The 15 individuals were randomly divided into two groups.
One group practiced KK for 12 minutes a day for eight weeks. The other group listened to classical music for the same period of time. The study was built on the premise that increases in blood flow in the prefrontal, superior frontal, and superior parietal cortices of the brain would improve emotional state, feelings of spirituality, and improvements in memory.
The subjects also underwent single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scans which measured activity of certain “regions of interest” in the brain during their meditation practices. There were significant changes noted in the amygdala in those who reported improved mood. This area of the brain plays a role in the formation and storage of memories associated with emotional events. Changes in the caudate, involved in learning and memory, correlated with lower depression scores.
Adults who performed the Kirtan Kriya mantra meditation reported improvements in depression, anger and confusion and significantly less tension. They also reported having more energy. The team did not report any notable change in spirituality scores.
Dr. Newberg was reported as saying, “…[this study] is a first step in understanding the neurophysiologic impact of this and similar meditative practices.”
Instructions on how to perform Kirtan Kriya can be found on the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation website, which helped fund the current study showing that meditation improves memory.