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Meditation protects attention from aging

As you get older, your ability to concentrate usually decreases. Intensive meditation can maintain the ability to focus attention, write American psychologists in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement. They followed a group of middle aged practitioners of meditation for 7 years.


Anthony Zanesco, a psychologist affiliated with the University of Miami, actually studied 2 groups of subjects. To keep things uncluttered, we only discuss part of Zanesco's research here. This involved 29 subjects who received intensive meditative training in the American meditation center Shambhala Mountain for 3 months.

Meditation protects attention from aging

According to a publication from 2011 [Emotion. 2011 Apr;11(2):299-312.] this training enhanced the subjects's concentration span. In the study on which this part is going, the researchers looked up the subjects again 7 years after the training, and determined their ability to focus. During this 7 years' period, most of the subjects had continued meditating on their own.

Meditation protects attention from aging
The researchers determined the concentration with a test in which the subjects had to look at a screen on which long and short lines appeared. If the long lines appeared, the subjects had to press a button. If the short lines did appear they should not do anything.

The concentration capacity was slightly reduced in the group as a whole. This was not a complete surprise, considering the age of the study participants.

Meditation protects attention from aging

The researchers asked the subjects how many hours they had meditated over the past 7 years, and then divided them into three groups: a low practice group, a medium practice group and a high practice group. The study participants in the latter group meditated slightly more than an hour a day.

At the same time, the researchers divided the subjects into 2 age [measured at baseline] groups. Then they were able to make the figure below.

Meditation protects attention from aging

"This study is the first to offer evidence that intensive and continued meditation practice is associated with enduring improvements in sustained attention and response inhibition, with the potential to alter longitudinal trajectories of cognitive change across a person's life", says Zanesco. [ March 28, 2018]

Zanesco emphasizes that the measured effects on the ability to concentrate in this study may not be exclusively attributable to the participants' meditative practices. "Participants' lifestyle or personality might have contributed to the observations." Zanesco hopes that future studies will bring more clarity.

J Cogn Enhanc (2018).

Meditation combats reduction in genetic lifespan caused by stress 13.05.2017
Daily half hour of meditation protects against burnout 09.09.2014
Meditation prevents colds 15.12.2012


Meditation delays molecular aging
Researchers at the University of California at Davis discovered that meditation boosts the activity of the enzyme telomerase in the cells.

Meditation lengthens lifespan
Senior citizens in a residential home who meditate are healthier, have better brain functioning and live longer, according to this study.

Meditation protects against cancer and heart attack
Elderly people who do transcendental meditation live longer, and meditation reduces the chance of dying from cancer or cardiovascular disease.