Greater Cortical Thickness in Elderly Female Yoga Practitioners-A Cross-Sectional Study.

Author: Afonso RF1, Balardin JB1, Lazar S2, Sato JR3, Igarashi N1, Santaella DF1,4, Lacerda SS1, Amaro E Jr1, Kozasa EH1
1Hospital Israelita Albert EinsteinSão Paulo, Brazil.
2Massachusetts General Hospital-Harvard Medical SchoolBoston, MA, United States.
3Universidade Federal do ABCSão Bernardo, Brazil.
4Centro de Práticas Esportivas da Universidade de São Paulo (CEPEUSP)São Paulo, Brazil.
Conference/Journal: Front Aging Neurosci.
Date published: 2017 Jun 20
Other: Volume ID: 9 , Pages: 201 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2017.00201. eCollection 2017. , Word Count: 199

Yoga, a mind-body activity that requires attentional engagement, has been associated with positive changes in brain structure and function, especially in areas related to awareness, attention, executive functions and memory. Normal aging, on the other hand, has also been associated with structural and functional brain changes, but these generally involve decreased cognitive functions. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to compare brain cortical thickness (CT) in elderly yoga practitioners and a group of age-matched healthy non-practitioners. We tested 21 older women who had practiced hatha yoga for at least 8 years and 21 women naive to yoga, meditation or any mind-body interventions who were matched to the first group in age, years of formal education and physical activity level. A T1-weighted MPRAGE sequence was acquired for each participant. Yoga practitioners showed significantly greater CT in a left prefrontal lobe cluster, which included portions of the lateral middle frontal gyrus, anterior superior frontal gyrus and dorsal superior frontal gyrus. We found greater CT in the left prefrontal cortex of healthy elderly women who trained yoga for a minimum of 8 years compared with women in the control group.

KEYWORDS: MRI; aging; cortical thickness; meditation; prefrontal cortex; yoga

PMID: 28676757 PMCID: PMC5476728 DOI: 10.3389/fnagi.2017.00201