As we age, our brains naturally lose their function. Elderly people experience memory loss in the form of what they hear in conversations and the things that they remember seeing. Researchers wanted to test whether yoga could improve an elderly person’s memory as well as the standard memory enhancement training (MET). What they found was astounding.
All participants in the study were over 55 years of age and had mild cognitive impairment (MCI). For 12 weeks, 14 patients did yoga, while 11 patients did MET. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), researchers were able to take pictures of which parts of the brain talked to each other during the memory exercises.
The patients who did yoga experienced significant improvements in verbal memory, meaning they remembered more of what they heard, and visuospatial memory, meaning they remembered more of what they saw. An added bonus was that yoga also lowered the level of depression in the patients. Brain scans showed that as yoga increased the patients’ memories, it also changed which parts of the brain communicated with each other while the person was doing the memory exercises. Now these are results worth remembering!
Eyre et al. “Changes in Neural Connectivity and Memory Following a Yoga Intervention for Older Adults: A Pilot Study.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2016, 52(2):673-84.
Photo Credit: "Can I Do Pilates If I’ve Barely Exercised In Years?" by Ambo Tuo Jalil is licensed under CC BY 2.0