Can Mindfulness Beat Alzheimer's Disease?

  • Rachel Anna Marjet Heutz
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease (AD), mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs), mild cognitive impairment (MCI), cognitive decline, default-mode network (DMN)


Abstract:The purpose of this paper is to identify to what extent the development of Alzheimer’s disease can be delayed or prevented by the use of mindfulness-based interventions. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease in which accumulation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) plays an important role. This leads to neuronal cell death and synaptic degeneration, especially in the default-mode network (DMN). No current effective treatment is available. Mindfulness has been related to an increase in volume and connectivity of the exact brain areas affected in AD. Therefore, mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs), such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), meditation and yoga have been tested in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI is seen as a transitional state between healthy age-related cognitive decline and AD pathology, hence an open window for early intervention. In this paper it is found that mindfulness has great potential to prevent AD-related pathology of the DMN, hence decreasing cognitive decline in people with MCI.