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Scans don't lie - yoga protects against dementia

Practising yoga can help maintain our ability to recall and to concentrate as we age. This is suggested by a small neuro-epidemiological study that Brazilian researchers at the Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in Sao Paulo published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

The Brazilians scanned the brains of 21 women over the age of 60 who had done hatha yoga [yoginis] twice a week for at least eight years. They then compared the scans with those of other women older than 60 who did not do yoga.

"We found greater thickness in the left prefrontal cortex in the yoginis, in brain regions associated with cognitive functions such as attention and memory," said first author Rui Afonso in a press release. [ July 24, 2017]

Scans don't lie - yoga protects against dementia

It is not the first time that research has shown that yoga practitioners have better developed brains than people who do not do yoga. [Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:821307.] [PLoS One. 2016 Mar 3;11(3):e0150757.]

"In the same way as muscles, the brain develops through training," said Elisa Kozasa, head of the research team. "Like any contemplative practice, yoga has a cognitive component in which attention and concentration are important."

The researchers believe that concentration training develops the left prefrontal cortex, which offers protection against age-related cognitive decline.

Front Aging Neurosci. 2017 Jun 20;9:201.

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