MEDITATION could counter the effects of Alzheimer’s disease by keeping people younger for longer, a study suggests.
Research appears to show those practicing the technique can boost the grey matter in their brains.
Scientists believe this could lead to a new tool to combat the growing rate of mental illness in an ageing population.
We can start to lose some functional abilities from as early as our mid-20s.
But tests appear to show the process is slowed up by contemplation.
Dr Florian Kurth, of the University of California, Los Angeles, said his team was surprised by the difference in brain volume among participants who had meditated for years and those who had not.
He said: “We expected rather small and distinct effects located in some of the regions that had previously been associated with meditating.
“What we actually observed was a widespread effect of meditation that encompassed regions throughout the entire brain.”
Although people are living longer, ageing comes with an increased risk of neuro-degenerative disease.
Dr Kurth, whose research is published in the journal Frontiers In Psychology, believes meditation could minimise this.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, combining meditation with “thought training”, is already recommended as a treatment for depression in Britain.
But Dr Laura Phipps, of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “More research is needed before we can say whether this could help to prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s.”