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Aging Ment Health. 2017 Nov;21(11):1113-1120. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2016.1247423. Epub 2016 Nov 9.

Can mindfulness-based interventions influence cognitive functioning in older adults? A review and considerations for future research.

Author information

1
a Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology , School for Mental Health and Neuroscience , Maastricht University , Maastricht , The Netherlands.
2
b King's College London , King's Health Partners , Department of Psychosis Studies, Institute of Psychiatry , London , UK.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

An increased need exists to examine factors that protect against age-related cognitive decline. There is preliminary evidence that meditation can improve cognitive function. However, most studies are cross-sectional and examine a wide variety of meditation techniques. This review focuses on the standard eight-week mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT).

METHOD:

We searched the PsychINFO, CINAHL, Web of Science, COCHRANE, and PubMed databases to identify original studies investigating the effects of MBI on cognition in older adults.

RESULTS:

Six reports were included in the review of which three were randomized controlled trials. Studies reported preliminary positive effects on memory, executive function and processing speed. However, most reports had a high risk of bias and sample sizes were small. The only study with low risk of bias, large sample size and active control group reported no significant findings.

CONCLUSION:

We conclude that eight-week MBI for older adults are feasible, but results on cognitive improvement are inconclusive due a limited number of studies, small sample sizes, and a high risk of bias. Rather than a narrow focus on cognitive training per se, future research may productively shift to investigate MBI as a tool to alleviate suffering in older adults, and to prevent cognitive problems in later life already in younger target populations.

KEYWORDS:

MBCT; MBSR; Mindfulness; cognition

PMID:
27827541
DOI:
10.1080/13607863.2016.1247423
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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