Well-being and health: meditation, to prevent Alzheimer’s

Initially, the desire to integrate a new parameter in studies on the prevention of neurodegenerative patients. “After focusing on the pathophysiological causes…

Initially, the desire to integrate a new parameter in studies on the prevention of neurodegenerative patients. “After focusing on the pathophysiological causes, the prevention work then pointed to the impact of lifestyle: physical activity, neuronal stimulation, cardiovascular health and healthy Mediterranean-type diet were put in place. cause. And even better, the effectiveness of their combined effect has been highlighted. But we had not yet been interested in the psychoaffective aspect, that is to say in depression, stress and sleep, while this dimension is major in the elderly “decrypts Gaël Chételat, research director for Inserm and specialist in Alzheimer’s disease. A reflection which also occurs at a time marked by the explosion of mindful meditation, “designed not as a method of relaxation and letting go but as a real mental training precisely intended to improve the psychoaffective factors, the cognitive and emotional aspects specific to aging, in particular to reduce stress, anxiety and depression”, continues the researcher.


137 attendees

Hence the idea of ​​studying the impact of meditation, and therefore of the management of psychoaffective factors, on the well-being and health of seniors. A study conducted among 137 Normans over the age of 65 randomly divided into three groups benefiting from different treatments: meditation sessions for the first group, English lessons for the second group; no particular activity for the third, this for a period of 18 months. With, for those benefiting from weekly workshops, homework to do at home on a tablet, and an intensive one-day course.

Results ?

These studies, carried out on the entire brain (at the level of the insula and the cortex) give promising, although contrasting, results. “If meditation can structurally and functionally modify younger and more plastic brains, 18 months of meditation training are not sufficient to modify the effects of aging in older subjects”, analyzes Gaël Chételat. On the other hand, the results are very clear when the measurements are carried out with meditating experts, accumulating several thousand hours of practice.

On the other hand, the effects on brain function are proven, even if the results may appear average. “We are indeed observing a favorable trend, but it would be interesting to explore it over a longer intervention period or with a larger population sample” specifies the researcher. This is why the study was extended for three more years.

Net mental health benefit

Finally, the behavioral measures are very clear: “The practice of meditation proves its real benefit on the mental health of the elderly with a significant improvement in well-being and fulfillment, and in attentional and socio-emotional capacities”, supports Antoine Lutz, head of the meditation axis. “Meditation could be an interesting approach to preserve brain structures and functions as well as cognitive abilities, and by extension, to prevent dementia” concludes the study, which will be published in the American scientific journal Jama Neurology.

In view of these “encouraging” results, the study will continue by directing the measurements in particular on the theme of sleep. With this in mind, the Age-Well trial plans to develop a meditation application specifically designed for aging and made available to as many seniors as possible. This will also make it possible to collect data in the interest of this research.

In any case, these results are a game-changer for research into degenerative diseases. “In the future, meditation will have to be integrated into multiglobal studies on tools for preventing aging,” concludes Gaël Chételat.

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Well-being and health: meditation, to prevent Alzheimer’s

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