A pilot study of the effects of meditation on regional brain metabolism in distressed dementia caregivers

Authors: Pomykala, Kelsey L; Silverman, Daniel HS; Geist, Cheri L; Voege, Patricia; Siddarth, Prabha; Nazarian, Nora; Cyr, Natalie M St; Khalsa, Dharma S; Lavretsky, Helen

Source: Aging Health, 1 October 2012, vol. 8, no. 5, pp. 509-516(8)


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Aims: Caregiver distress can affect mood and cognition. Meditation can be used to reduce stress. This pilot study explored whether yogic meditation could change regional cerebral metabolism in distressed caregivers. Methods: Nine dementia caregivers were randomized to undergo meditation training compared with relaxation for 12 min per day for 8 weeks. Caregivers received neuropsychiatric assessments and brain FDG-PET scans at baseline and postintervention. Results: The groups did not differ on measures of mood, mental and physical health, and burden at baseline and follow-up. When comparing the regional cerebral metabolism between groups, significant differences over time were found in the bilateral cerebellum (p < 0.0005), right inferior lateral anterior temporal (p < 0.0005), right inferior frontal (p = 0.001), left superior frontal (p = 0.001), left associative visual (p = 0.002) and right posterior cingulate (p = 0.002) cortices. Conclusion: Meditation practice in distressed caregivers resulted in different patterns of regional cerebral metabolism from relaxation. These pilot results should be replicated in a larger study.

Keywords: Kirtan kriya; PET; dementia caregiver; depression; regional brain metabolism; stress; yogic meditation

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2217/ahe.12.46

Affiliations: 1Department of Molecular & Medical Pharmacology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2012


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