Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction in Older Adults- an fMRI Study

Document Type


Publication Date


Academic Year



Introduction : Studies have shown that the practice of mindfulness-based stress reduction leads to benefits in psychological well-being, cognitive functioning, and physical health. However, there is limited research looking at the impact of mindfulness-based stress reduction in older adults, specifically adults 75 and older. This study investigated the neural changes that occur in older adults after participating in an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program.

Methods : 11 subjects, with an average age of 79, participated in an 8-week intensive training in mindfulness-based stress reduction. In order to identify neural changes that occurred through meditation training, arterial spin labelled imaging was collected before, during, and after the intervention as well as in a neutral and meditation state.

Results : ASL analysis showed increased activation in the frontal gyrus, superior temporal gyrus, posterior cingulate, and anterior cingulate after completing 8-weeks of mindfulness-based stress reduction. Additionally, there was increased activation in the rectal gyrus, sub-gyral white matter, and basal ganglia when comparing the meditation state to the neutral state in pre-meditation and post-meditation conditions. There was decreased activation in the middle frontal gyrus and cingulate cortex in the meditation versus neutral state in pre- and post-meditation conditions.

Discussion : These results show that older adults can have significant neurological changes through a practice of mindfulness-based stress reduction. This evidence of neural plasticity suggests that older adults stand to gain the same benefits in cognition, psychological well-being, and health that is conferred to younger meditators.



This document is currently not available here.