Skip to content

    Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Can Meditation Reverse Memory Loss?

    Study Shows Improvement on Memory Tests After Practicing Meditation for 8 Weeks
    By
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Mar 3, 2010 -- Meditation can increase blood flow in the brain and improve memory, according to researchers who tested a specific kind of meditation and found the improvement after just eight weeks.

    The 15 participants, ages 52 to 77, all had memory problems at the start, says Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD, one of the researchers and the medical director of the Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation in Tucson, Ariz.

    For eight weeks, the participants engaged in a meditation at home known as Kirtan Kriya, which originated from the Kundalini yoga tradition.

    "It only takes 12 minutes [a day,] it's easy to learn, it doesn't cost anything, and it has no side effects," Khalsa tells WebMD. The technique, he says, "reverses memory loss in people with memory problems."

    The study findings are published online in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

    The researchers first gave all 15 participants cognitive tests and took brain images to measure blood flow.

    The participants learned the Kirtan Kriya technique. It involves the repetition of four sounds -- SA, TA, NA, MA. While saying the sounds, the person meditating also touches their thumb to their index finger, and middle, fourth, and fifth fingers. They perform it out loud for two minutes, in a whisper for two minutes, in silence for four minutes, a whisper for two more minutes, and out loud for two minutes.

    The participants were asked to do the meditation each day for eight weeks and were sent home with a meditation CD.

    A comparison group of five people with memory loss got the same imaging tests and were asked to listen to two Mozart violin concertos each day for eight weeks for the same 12 minutes a day.

    Improvements in Memory

    Participants were asked to keep daily logs and came back after eight weeks for repeat testing and scans.

    At the study start, of the 15 in the meditation group, seven had mild age-associated memory impairment, five had mild cognitive impairment, a worse problem, and three had moderate impairment of memory with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. One who had Alzheimer's was not included in the final analysis because of inability to do the meditation at the follow-up.

    Today on WebMD

    Remember your finger
    When it’s more than just forgetfulness.
    man eating potato chips close up
    These may harm your cognition.
     
    senior man
    Common symptoms to look for.
    mri scan of human brain
    Can drinking red wine reverse the disease?
     
    Checklist
    ARTICLE
    eating blueberries
    ARTICLE
     
    clock
    Article
    Colored mri of brain
    ARTICLE
     
    Human brain graphic
    ARTICLE
    mature woman
    ARTICLE
     
    Woman comforting ailing mother
    ARTICLE
    Senior woman with serious expression
    ARTICLE