Does meditation help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease?

A study carried out by researchers at Yale University, shows that people who meditate regularly are able to switch off the brain area which is responsible for automatic thinking or certain neurological disturbance (e.g. schizophrenia or autism). The author of a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, emphasised that getting an understanding of operational principles of meditation, brings us closer to an understanding of many diseases.

The Yale researchers studied the brains of experienced and novice meditators using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during three different meditation practices. It has been seen that experienced meditators could reduce the activity of the default network of the brain (DMN, default mode network, that is responsible for automatic thinking, lack of concentration, restlessness and hyperactivity) regardless of the meditation technique used. DMN shows characteristic changes in Alzheimer’s disease patients.

People who meditate a lot, can concentrate much more on the present moment and not on “the self”.

The recordings showed that when the basic network (“grid”) of the brain was active, experienced meditators could activate the brain areas responsible for introspection and self-control, but the novice meditators could not do this. According to the researchers, this means that during meditation the participants are continuously suppressing their thoughts about themselves and also preventing their concentration wandering. The phenomenon described above was observed even when they were at rest and not meditating. It may indicate that meditators build up a new basic state, in which more attention is paid to the moment than “the self”.

For thousands of years, meditation has helped people to focus on the moment and sweep out the distracting thoughts from the brain – said the leader of the research. In the background of many mental illnesses, the patient is a prisoner of their own thoughts. With the help of meditation, the operational mechanisms of the brain can be understood and managaged – He added.