Enhanced Sustained attention and decreased vigilance decrement in cognitively normal older adults after mindfulness meditation training: two years follow up RCT study

Mauricio Watanabe Ribeiro, PhD

Massachusetts General Hospital
Enhanced Sustained attention and decreased vigilance decrement in cognitively normal older adults after mindfulness meditation training: two years follow up RCT study

Scientific Abstract

Background: Sustained attention is one key element for an independent life that declines even in healthy aging. In line with recent increase in life-expectancy, finding ways to protect and promote cognitive fitness is critical to maintain the quality of life in older adulthood. Mindfulness training is one of the most widely utilized methods to maintain and improve sustained attention, however longitudinal studies with cognitively intact older adults is still lacking.

Methods: We randomized 145 participants (65-80 years) into either Mindfulness Training (MT) or Cognitive Fitness Training (CFT). Both training programs consisted of weekly encounter plus homework for 8 weeks. We assessed sustained attention at five timepoints: baseline, post-intervention, six months, one year, and two years follow-up. Linear mixed models were utilized. We also assessed their resting-state brain connectivity at pre, post, and one year using fMRI and correlated the changes in connectivity networks and changes in a sustained attention task.

Results: Overall performance on sustained attention task was increased for both groups after the intervention (p<.001). However, the follow-up measures up to 2 years presented divergent patterns for each group. MT group maintained the increase and CFT group returned to an overall performance non-different than baseline after two years. Furthermore, at two years follow-up, MT group demonstrated a lower vigilance decrement than CFT group. Exploratory analyzes showed that the overall performance increase from pre to post-intervention positively correlated with a change in FPCN in connectivity for MT and with DMN-SN for CFT.

Conclusions: Different network changes on resting state connectivity correlated overall sustained attention performance for each group, indicating divergent neurocognitive mechanisms associated with each intervention. The sustained lower vigilance decreases and increased overall performance in MT without an explicit extrinsic motivation.Taken together, these findings suggest that mindfulness meditation can be an effective non-pharmacological intervention for helping in healthier aging.

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research Areas

Authors

Mauricio Watanabe Ribeiro, PhD, Gunes Sevinc, PhD, Agnieszka Zuberer, PhD, Nikoloz Tarielashvili, MSc, Robert Kaufman, Joseph Locascio, PhD, Elisa Harumi Kozasa, PhD, Brad Dickerson, MD,PhD, Mike Esterman, PhD, Sara W. Lazar, PhD