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Home Home Wellness News Yoga May Boost Aging Brains
Yoga May Boost Aging Brains
Wellness - Latest Wellness News
Jupiter, FL Dentist

By Amy Norton

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 9, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Older women who practice yoga may have greater "thickness" in areas of the brain involved in memory and attention, a small study suggests.

Researchers found that even compared with other healthy, active women their age, yoga practitioners typically had greater cortical thickness in the brain's left prefrontal cortex.

That could be good news because, as the researchers pointed out, cognitive impairment from aging is usually associated with less volume in cortical areas of the brain associated with attention tasks, and decreases in memory.

But experts said it's not clear what conclusions can be drawn from the study's findings.

The findings are based on one-time brain scans of fewer than 50 women -- and they do not prove that yoga, itself, altered anyone's brain structure, according to senior researcher Elisa Kozasa.

The brain differences might have existed before the women ever tried yoga, said Kozasa, a researcher at Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

But the study does add to a bigger body of evidence on yoga and brain function, said Dr. Helen Lavretsky, a researcher who was not involved in the work.

"This contributes to the evidence that yoga practice has neuroplastic effects on the brain that may translate into other health benefits -- like better mood and cognition," said Lavretsky, a professor-in-residence of psychiatry at the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine.

"Neuroplasticity" refers to the brain's ability to reorganize itself and form new connections among cells over the course of a lifetime.

In her own research, Lavretsky has found some evidence that yoga benefits older adults' brain function.

In a recent pilot study, her team tested the effects of weekly yoga classes among 25 older adults who were showing early signs of memory problems. The participants were randomly assigned to 12 weeks of yoga -- which included some movement, breathing practices and meditation -- or 12 weeks of "brain games."

In the end, both groups were doing a little better on standard memory tests, compared with the study's outset. But the yoga group showed a bigger change.

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