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Neurochemical and Neuroanatomical Plasticity Following Memory Training and Yoga Interventions in Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment

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      Behavioral interventions are becoming increasingly popular approaches to ameliorate age-related cognitive decline, but their underlying neurobiological mechanisms and clinical efficiency have not been fully elucidated. The present study explored brain plasticity associated with two behavioral interventions, memory enhancement training (MET) and a mind-body practice (yogic meditation), in healthy seniors with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) using structural magnetic resonance imaging (s-MRI) and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy ( 1H-MRS). Senior participants (age ≥55 years) with MCI were randomized to the MET or yogic meditation interventions. For both interventions, participants completed either MET training or Kundalini Yoga (KY) for 60-min sessions over 12 weeks, with 12-min daily homework assignments. Gray matter volume and metabolite concentrations in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and bilateral hippocampus were measured by structural MRI and 1H-MRS at baseline and after 12 weeks of training. Metabolites measured included glutamate-glutamine (Glx), choline-containing compounds (Cho, including glycerophosphocholine and phosphocholine), gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and N-acetyl aspartate and N-acetylaspartyl-glutamate (NAA-NAAG). In total, 11 participants completed MET and 14 completed yogic meditation for this study. Structural MRI analysis showed an interaction between time and group in dACC, indicating a trend towards increased gray matter volume after the MET intervention. 1H-MRS analysis showed an interaction between time and group in choline-containing compounds in bilateral hippocampus, induced by significant decreases after the MET intervention. Though preliminary, our results suggest that memory training induces structural and neurochemical plasticity in seniors with MCI. Further research is needed to determine whether mind-body interventions like yoga yield similar neuroplastic changes.

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          Mild cognitive impairment as a diagnostic entity.

          The concept of cognitive impairment intervening between normal ageing and very early dementia has been in the literature for many years. Recently, the construct of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) has been proposed to designate an early, but abnormal, state of cognitive impairment. MCI has generated a great deal of research from both clinical and research perspectives. Numerous epidemiological studies have documented the accelerated rate of progression to dementia and Alzheimer's disease (AD) in MCI subjects and certain predictor variables appear valid. However, there has been controversy regarding the precise definition of the concept and its implementation in various clinical settings. Clinical subtypes of MCI have been proposed to broaden the concept and include prodromal forms of a variety of dementias. It is suggested that the diagnosis of MCI can be made in a fashion similar to the clinical diagnoses of dementia and AD. An algorithm is presented to assist the clinician in identifying subjects and subclassifying them into the various types of MCI. By refining the criteria for MCI, clinical trials can be designed with appropriate inclusion and exclusion restrictions to allow for the investigation of therapeutics tailored for specific targets and populations.

            Author and article information

            1Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Los Angeles, CA, USA
            2Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center, Department of Neurology, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Los Angeles, CA, USA
            3Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University Khon Kaen, Thailand
            4Discipline of Psychiatry, University of Adelaide Adelaide, SA, Australia
            5IMPACT SRC, School of Medicine, Deakin University Geelong, VIC, Australia
            6Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne Melbourne, VIC, Australia
            7Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation Tucson, AZ, USA
            Author notes

            Edited by: Ashok Kumar, University of Florida, USA

            Reviewed by: Adam J. Woods, University of Florida, USA; Shirley Telles, Patanjali Research Foundation, India

            *Correspondence: Helen Lavretsky hlavretsky@
            Front Aging Neurosci
            Front Aging Neurosci
            Front. Aging Neurosci.
            Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience
            Frontiers Media S.A.
            21 November 2016
            : 8
            5116460 10.3389/fnagi.2016.00277
            Copyright © 2016 Yang, Leaver, Siddarth, Paholpak, Ercoli, St.

            Cyr, Eyre, Narr, Khalsa and Lavretsky. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution and reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

            Figures: 2, Tables: 3, Equations: 0, References: 78, Pages: 9, Words: 7400
            Funded by: National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression 10.13039/100009670
            Funded by: Brain and Behavior Research Foundation 10.13039/100000874
            Original Research


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