Research: WELLS and COLLEAGUES,

Listed in Issue 219

Abstract

WELLS and COLLEAGUES,  Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), Harvard Medical School, 330 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA. rewells@wakehealth.edu conducted a ‘proof of concept’ trial to determine whether Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) would improve default mode network (DMN) connectivity and reduce hippocampal atrophy among adults with MCI, features associated with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).

Background

Those with high baseline stress levels are more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's Disease (AD). While meditation may reduce stress and alter the hippocampus and default mode network (DMN), little is known about its impact in these populations.

Methodology

Our objective was to conduct a ‘proof of concept’ trial to determine whether Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) would improve DMN connectivity and reduce hippocampal atrophy among adults with MCI. 14 adults with MCI were randomized to MBSR vs. usual care and underwent resting state fMRI at baseline and follow-up. Seed based functional connectivity was applied using posterior cingulate cortex as seed. Brain morphometry analyses were performed using FreeSurfer.

Results

The results showed that after the intervention, MBSR participants had increased functional connectivity between the posterior cingulate cortex and bilateral medial prefrontal cortex and left hippocampus compared to controls. In addition, MBSR participants had trends of less bilateral hippocampal volume atrophy than control participants.

Conclusion

These preliminary results indicate that in adults with MCI, MBSR may have a positive impact on the regions of the brain most related to MCI and AD. Further research with larger sample sizes and longer-follow-up are needed to further investigate the results from this pilot study.

References

Wells RE, Yeh GY, Kerr CE, Wolkin J, Davis RB, Tan Y, Spaeth R, Wall RB, Walsh J, Kaptchuk TJ, Press D, Phillips RS and Kong J. Meditation's impact on default mode network and hippocampus in mild cognitive impairment: a pilot study. Neuroscience Letters.  556:15-9. Nov 27 2013.

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