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Reviews in the Neurosciences

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Volume 29, Issue 7

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Mindfulness and meditation: treating cognitive impairment and reducing stress in dementia

Jesse Russell-Williams
  • School of Social Sciences and Psychology, Western Sydney University, Sydney 2751, New South Wales, Australia
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/ Wafa Jaroudi
  • School of Social Sciences and Psychology, Western Sydney University, Sydney 2751, New South Wales, Australia
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/ Tania Perich
  • School of Social Sciences and Psychology, Western Sydney University, Sydney 2751, New South Wales, Australia
  • School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney 2751, New South Wales, Australia
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/ Siobhan Hoscheidt
  • Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem 27157, NC, USA
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/ Mohamad El Haj
  • University of Lille, CNRS, CHU Lille, UMR 9193–SCALab–Sciences Cognitive Sciences Affectives, F-59000 Lille, France
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/ Ahmed A. Moustafa
  • Corresponding author
  • School of Social Sciences and Psychology, Western Sydney University, Sydney 2751, New South Wales, Australia
  • Marcs Institute for Brain and Behaviour, Western Sydney University, Sydney 2751, New South Wales, Australia
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Published Online: 2018-02-21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/revneuro-2017-0066

Abstract

This study investigates the relationship between mindfulness, meditation, cognition and stress in people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), dementia, mild cognitive impairment and subjective cognitive decline. Accordingly, we explore how the use of meditation as a behavioural intervention can reduce stress and enhance cognition, which in turn ameliorates some dementia symptoms. A narrative review of the literature was conducted with any studies using meditation as an intervention for dementia or dementia-related memory conditions meeting inclusion criteria. Studies where moving meditation was the main intervention were excluded due to the possible confounding of exercise. Ten papers were identified and reviewed. There was a broad use of measures across all studies, with cognitive assessment, quality of life and perceived stress being the most common. Three studies used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure functional changes to brain regions during meditation. The interventions fell into the following three categories: mindfulness, most commonly mindfulness-based stress reduction (six studies); Kirtan Kriya meditation (three studies); and mindfulness-based Alzheimer’s stimulation (one study). Three of these studies were randomised controlled trials. All studies reported significant findings or trends towards significance in a broad range of measures, including a reduction of cognitive decline, reduction in perceived stress, increase in quality of life, as well as increases in functional connectivity, percent volume brain change and cerebral blood flow in areas of the cortex. Limitations and directions for future studies on meditation-based treatment for AD and stress management are suggested.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; dementia; mild cognitive impairment (MCI); mindfulness; neural studies; stress

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About the article

Received: 2017-08-11

Accepted: 2017-12-08

Published Online: 2018-02-21

Published in Print: 2018-09-25


Citation Information: Reviews in the Neurosciences, Volume 29, Issue 7, Pages 791–804, ISSN (Online) 2191-0200, ISSN (Print) 0334-1763, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/revneuro-2017-0066.

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