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Music and Meditation May Help Avoid Memory Loss

Listening to simple meditation or music boosted cognitive function, study shows.

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Listening to music on train

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Curling up with some music or meditating daily can be soothing, restorative and healing—and may just help boost memory for people who need it the most. That’s according to a recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

The study looked at 60 adults with memory loss associated with an early stage of Alzheimer’s disease. They were assigned to listen to either music or to practice the kirtan kriya meditation, for 12 minutes a day for 12 weeks. Those of you who practice kundalini yoga are probably familiar with the Kirtan Kriya; it’s a simple chant that uses four Sanskrit sounds, Sa, Ta, Na, Ma, referring to birth, life, death and rebirth.

Over the next three months, both the music and meditation groups showed a marked and significant boost in their memory function and their cognitive performance—things like attention and processing speed. Better yet, the gains were still maintained or increased at the six-month mark.

Previously, the same team, led Dr. Kim Innes, Ph.D., an associate professor in epidemiology and clinical researcher at West Virginia University, had published another study using the same participants. That had showed that both the meditation group and the music listening group showed improvements in important areas of quality of life, such as sleeping well, improved mood, lowered stress and increased well-being, and that the benefits were sustained beyond the three-month mark.  

If you’d like to try the kirtan kriya for yourself, there are instructions for a 12-minute Kirtan Kriya singing exercise from the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation here.


Kathryn Drury Wagner

Kathryn Drury Wagner is a writer and editor based in Los Angeles. She is the author of Hawaii’s Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever!, a science and natural history “gross out” for young readers.  


This entry is tagged with:
Meditation MusicStudiesBrain FunctionAlzheimer’s

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