Regular and intensive meditation sessions over the course of a lifetime could help a person remain attentive and focussed well into old age. This is according to the most extensive longitudinal study to date examining a group of meditation practitioners. Published in Springer’s Journal of Cognitive Enhancement, the research evaluates the benefits that people gained after three months of full-time meditation training and whether these benefits are maintained seven years later. Lead author Anthony Zanesco, now at the University of Miami in the US, however, cautions that further research is needed before meditation can be advocated as a sure-fire method for countering the effects of aging on the brain.
This study follows up on previous work by the same group of researchers at the University of California, Davis in 2011, which assessed the cognitive abilities of 30 people who regularly meditated before and after they went on a three-month-long retreat at the Shambhala Mountain meditation center in the US. At the center, they meditated daily using techniques designed to foster calm sustained attention on a chosen object and to generate aspirations such as compassion, loving-kindness, emphatic joy and equanimity among participants, for others and themselves. During this time, another group of 30 people who regularly meditated were also monitored. Other than traveling to the meditation center for a week-long assessment period, they carried on with their lives as normal. After the first group’s initial retreat was over, the second group received similar intensive training at the Shambhala Mountain Center.
Excerpted from Science Daily