Enhanced Cognition and Strengthened Resting State Connectivity Between the Hippocampus and Posteromedial Cortex Following Mindfulness Training in Healthy Older Adults

Gunes Sevinc, Ph.D.

Massachusetts General Hospital
Enhanced Cognition and Strengthened Resting State Connectivity Between the Hippocampus and Posteromedial Cortex Following Mindfulness Training in Healthy Older Adults

Scientific Abstract

Background: Maintaining optimal cognitive functioning throughout the lifespan is a public health priority. Investigation of cognitive outcomes following interventions to promote and preserve brain structure and function, and associated neural mechanisms, are therefore of critical importance.

Methods: In this randomized controlled trial, we examined the behavioral and neural outcomes following mindfulness training (n=70), compared to a cognitive fitness program (n=75) in healthy, cognitively normal, older adults (65-80 years old). To assess cognitive functioning, we used the Preclinical Alzheimer Cognitive Composite (PACC), which combines measures of episodic memory, executive function, and global cognition. We hypothesized that mindfulness training would enhance cognition, increase functional connectivity measured with MRI between the hippocampus and posteromedial cortex, as well as promote increased gray matter volume within those regions.

Results: Our primary outcome did not differ statistically between the two groups, but only mindfulness training led to a statistically significant improvement on the PACC. Within the mindfulness training group, greater improvement on the PACC was associated with a larger increase in intrinsic connectivity within the default network components, particularly between the right hippocampus and posteromedial cortex and between the left hippocampus and lateral parietal cortex. The control group did not show such effects.

Conclusion: These findings demonstrate that mindfulness training improves cognitive performance in cognitively intact older individuals and promotes successful cognitive aging through enhanced connectivity within the default network.

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research Areas

Authors

Gunes Sevinc, Ph.D., Johann Rusche, M.Sc., Bonnie Wong, Ph.D., Joseph J. Locascio, Ph.D., Doreen Rentz, PsyD., Bradford D. Dickerson, M.D., Sara W. Lazar, Ph.D.