Meditation and Yoga: Could They Help Keep Your Memories Sharp?

Are you concerned that your memory isn’t what it used to be? You’re right to be worried — even minor memory slippage can be a sign of impending dementia. However, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston may have discovered a cost-free method for slowing the development of Alzheimer’s and other dementias: meditation and stress reduction techniques.

The Link Between Alzheimer’s and Stress

“We know that approximately 50 percent of people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment — the intermediate stage between the expected declines of normal aging and the more serious cognitive deterioration associated with dementia — may develop dementia within five years,” says researcher Rebecca Erwin Wells. “And unfortunately, we know there are currently no FDA-approved medications that can stop that progression.”

Furthermore, there is a high correlation between perceived stress and Alzheimer’s. Wells and her team wanted to know if techniques such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) could help improve cognitive reserve.

A Study on Meditation and Cognitive Function

The study looked at people between the ages of 55 and 90, including 14 people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. The researchers investigated the effects of taking part in MBSR through meditation and yoga. They were particularly interested in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for emotions, learning, and memory, and the default mode network (DMN), which is engaged when people remember past events or envision the future.

The hippocampus is known to atrophy as people progress toward mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies have shown that the hippocampus is activated during meditation and that people who meditate have more hippocampal gray matter concentration. Therefore, the researchers wanted to know, “is it possible for MBSR to help attenuate the decline of individuals already experiencing some memory problems?”

The Promising Findings

The results of fMRI imaging showed that people engaged in MBSR had significantly improved functional connectivity in the areas of the default mode network. MBSR also reduced atrophy of the hippocampus.

Although the study is small and more research is needed to further investigate these results, Wells is excited about the findings: “MBSR may reduce hippocampal atrophy and improve functional connectivity in the same areas of the brain most affected by Alzheimer’s disease. MBSR is a relatively simple intervention with very little downside that may provide real promise for individuals who have very few treatment options.”

Other Natural Methods to Help Prevent Dementia

Research shows that an oral turmeric supplement may be one of the best natural ways to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s. Curcuminoids in turmeric can help reduce beta-amyloid plaque buildup on the brain and reduce neuroinflammation, two of the key biomarkers linked to Alzheimer’s development.


Meditation and stress reduction techniques may be a powerful tool to combat the effects of age-related cognitive decline. With a minimal amount of effort and virtually no downsides, incorporating mindfulness practices into your daily routine may have a significant positive impact on your mental well-being.

In addition to practicing mindfulness, consider incorporating natural supplements, such as turmeric, into your health regimen to further strengthen your cognitive capabilities. While more research is needed to fully understand the potential of meditation and other natural methods, their benefits offer a ray of hope in the fight against Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.