Does meditation enhance cognition and brain plasticity?

Glen Xiong, P. Murali Doraiswamy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

49 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Meditation practices have various health benefits including the possibility of preserving cognition and preventing dementia. While the mechanisms remain investigational, studies show that meditation may affect multiple pathways that could play a role in brain aging and mental fitness. For example, meditation may reduce stress-induced cortisol secretion and this could have neuroprotective effects potentially via elevating levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Meditation may also potentially have beneficial effects on lipid profiles and lower oxidative stress, both of which could in turn reduce the risk for cerebrovascular disease and age-related neurodegeneration. Further, meditation may potentially strengthen neuronal circuits and enhance cognitive reserve capacity. These are the theoretical bases for how meditation might enhance longevity and optimal health. Evidence to support a neuroprotective effect comes from cognitive, electroencephalogram (EEG), and structural neuroimaging studies. In one cross-sectional study, meditation practitioners were found to have a lower age-related decline in thickness of specific cortical regions. However, the enthusiasm must be balanced by the inconsistency and preliminary nature of existing studies as well as the fact that meditation comprises a heterogeneous group of practices. Key future challenges include the isolation of a potential common element in the different meditation modalities, replication of existing findings in larger randomized trials, determining the correct "dose," studying whether findings from expert practitioners are generalizable to a wider population, and better control of the confounding genetic, dietary and lifestyle influences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Pages63-69
Number of pages7
Volume1172
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2009

Publication series

NameAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Volume1172
ISSN (Print)00778923
ISSN (Electronic)17496632

Fingerprint

Meditation
Neuroprotective Agents
Cognition
Plasticity
Brain
Health
Neuroimaging
Oxidative stress
Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
Electroencephalography
Hydrocortisone
Aging of materials
Lipids
Networks (circuits)
Cognitive Reserve
Cerebrovascular Disorders
Group Practice
Population Control
Insurance Benefits
Dementia

Keywords

  • Cognition
  • Cortisol
  • Dementia
  • Meditation
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

Cite this

Xiong, G., & Doraiswamy, P. M. (2009). Does meditation enhance cognition and brain plasticity? In Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (Vol. 1172, pp. 63-69). (Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences; Vol. 1172). https://doi.org/10.1196/annals.1393.002

Does meditation enhance cognition and brain plasticity? / Xiong, Glen; Doraiswamy, P. Murali.

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Vol. 1172 2009. p. 63-69 (Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences; Vol. 1172).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Xiong, G & Doraiswamy, PM 2009, Does meditation enhance cognition and brain plasticity? in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. vol. 1172, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol. 1172, pp. 63-69. https://doi.org/10.1196/annals.1393.002
Xiong G, Doraiswamy PM. Does meditation enhance cognition and brain plasticity? In Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Vol. 1172. 2009. p. 63-69. (Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences). https://doi.org/10.1196/annals.1393.002
Xiong, Glen ; Doraiswamy, P. Murali. / Does meditation enhance cognition and brain plasticity?. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Vol. 1172 2009. pp. 63-69 (Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences).
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