The ARPF is excited to share with you our groundbreaking meditation and memory research. Since the year 2000, we have completed many studies examining the effects on brain and memory of a very special 12 minute yoga meditation called Kirtan Kriya.
Our work has been conducted at some of the leading medical schools in America including the University of Pennsylvania, and UCLA. One of our studies, which will be described below also involved the University of California-San Francisco, where Dr. Khalsa, our medical director, did his anesthesiology residency.
All of our research has been published in prestigious medical journals.
Currently, we are funding new studies, including the largest study in history on the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. We are also supporting research at the University of West Virginia and UCLA on the effects of Kirtan Kriya in patients with MCI. MCI may progress to Alzheimer’s.
As time goes on, we plan to design and fund more research about preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Among them, we will study the powerful effects this simple yoga meditation has on your overall health, your brain and your memory.
What we have discovered thus far is that simply practicing Kirtan Kriya for only 12 minutes a day has profound effects on not only your brain and memory but also on your mood, energy, genes, cells, immune system, sleep, your overall health and psychological and spiritual well-being.
Moreover, as you will read below, doing this meditative exercise in the prescribed manner increases the blood flow and oxygen to critically important areas of your brain. This, in turn, activates areas that determine your health and well being, as well as your ability to age well. In fact, one of the studies reveals that people who practice meditation on a regular basis enjoy an anti-aging effect on their brain.
Perhaps most significantly, this technique activates the same area of the brain that goes down in function when a person actually loses their memory. This area has an anatomical name, the posterior cingulate gyrus, but you can simply think of it as a muscle like your bicep. Not unlike when you go to the gym and exercise for your bicep to make your arm stronger, when you exercise your mental muscle with Kirtan Kriya you strengthen your mind and memory. Moreover, our research has revealed a reversal of memory loss (published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease).
We have also discovered that highly stressed people, such as caregivers of dementia patients, are able to reduce their stress and actually improve the health of their genes by doing this exercise 12 minutes a day. Scientifically speaking, they have longer telomeres, the tip of your DNA, and when your telomeres are longer, you are healthier and longer lived.
Below you will find a more complete description of the ARPF’s research and a link to the actual published abstracts. You may claim your copy of Kirtan Kriya at the end of this section.
Here is a chronological list of our studies along with supporting information, such as user-friendly pictures of brain scans and where they were published. We hope you enjoy these descriptions.
Formal research on Kirtan Kriya was begun around the year 2000. At that time, Dr. Khalsa, Major Nisha Money M.D., a highly regarded physician in the United States Air Force, and best-selling author Daniel Amen, M.D. of the world renowned Amen Clinics, organized a SPECT-Scan study looking at the effects of Kirtan Kriya on normal subjects.
Above is before and after picture of a subject’s brain on Kirtan Kirya. Notice that the brain on the left is smaller and has dimples in the top part of the brain. These dimples signify a lack of blood flow. This is not the picture of a healthy-looking brain. As you can easily see, the after picture shows a symmetrical, rejuvenated brain with lots of energy and blood flow. (increased blood flow = stronger brain connections and perhaps the creation of new brain cells too). This is a picture of a healthy brain.
Below is a picture of the posterior cingulate gyrus (PCG), where brain blood flow is also increased.
It is Dr. Khalsa’s hypothesis that if everyone did Kirtan Kriya every day, it may be reasonable to think that dramatically fewer people would get Alzheimer’s disease.
Our subsequent research supports that notion.
Our next series of studies was done at The University of Pennsylvania Medical School in conjunction with Andrew Newberg, M.D., one of the most highly regarded experts on exploring the changes in the brain during meditation utilizing various types of brain scans.
First we studied patients with memory loss. Memory and psychological tests were done, along with a scan on their first visit, before they were taught this meditative exercise. After their first practice, a second scan was performed and improvements in their brain were seen.
The patients then went home and practiced Kirtan Kriya for 8 weeks. When they were rescanned and tested, it was revealed that their memory loss had been reversed. This was published in 2010 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
These dramatic improvements may be seen on the following two scans:
Compared to the first time the patients practiced this exercise, after 8 weeks the arrow reveals a marked increase in frontal lobe activity, signifying improvements in attention, concentration and focus.
Another area was shown as improved was the Anterior Cingulate Gyrus, an important brain area for balancing stress. A part of the frontal lobe also seen to be improved is the Pre-Frontal Cortex (PFC). This improvement may help stop the progression of early memory loss, also known as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) to Alzheimer’s disease.
We had additional papers published about our memory loss reversal study. The subjects not only reversed their memory loss but also had improvements in their mood, energy and spiritual well-being.
This is important, because many studies looking at meditation and psychological/spiritual well-being require extensive training and long meditation periods. We showed that doing Kirtan Kriya for 12 minutes a day creates the same effect. This paper was published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
Beyond the above studies, we had two other papers published including one that revealed that meditation has a profound anti-aging effect on your brain when practiced over the long term. That was published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition.
We also published a paper that revealed for the first time ever that different meditations have a different effect on the brain. We showed again that this technique activated important brain areas such as the posterior cingulate, anterior cingulate, frontal lobe, and insula (an area injured by early life stress and trauma). This pioneering work was published in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging.
Finally, we want to discuss the three studies we’ve completed recently at UCLA, which are all very significant. First, we looked at stressed caregivers of dementia patients, who, as you may know, are at risk of developing memory loss themselves, as well as depression and poor general health. This study was published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
The study involved the Kirtan Kriya meditation and showed a decrease in the levels of inflammation markers in the subjects. Their stress levels were also decreased, their emotional well being was maximized, their depression levels reduced, their energy levels increased, and their memory improved.
Please see the data presented at the Telomere Biology in Health and Disease International Conference in Stockholm, Sweden in May 2011.
What is groundbreaking about the study is that it showed an increase of 43% in telomerase activity, while the relaxation group actually had a decrease in telomerase. As mentioned above, this is an exquisite marker of health and longevity. If you have short telomeres, it’s consistent with poor health and, if you are able to increase telomere length, it means you are working towards better health, decreased inflammation, less stress, longer life, and a better memory.
Our next study at UCLA revealed how the different aspects of Kirtan Kriya further impact the brain:
- The finger movements activate the motor-sensory area and the anterior cingulate, which is paramount for balance within the autonomic nervous system.
- The chanting stimulates the superior frontal gyrus, which is significant for improving attention, concentration, and focu,s as well as the anterior cingulate, which is mentioned above.
- The occipital cortex was also activated, revealing an improvement in total brain coherence, planning and balance.
Genetic health was also improved. The critical genes that are associated with inflammation go down while conversely, the genes that are associated with an improvement in immune function are improved.
Please recall these multiple significant changes created by Kirtan Kriya took place in only 12 minutes a day.
What’s New In Our Research?
We are delighted to announce that the ARPF has partnered with the Ministry of Health and Welfare in Helsinki, Finland and The Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, for the largest study in history on the prevention of Alzheimer’s. Called the FINGER Study, it will involve over 1,000 subjects.
The participants will be involved in an integrative medical program not unlike the original ARPF’s Four Pillars of Prevention. They are: diet, exercise, mental exercise and social activity, and management of metabolic and vascular risk factors.
Additionally, telomere length will also be measured before, during, and after the study. This aspect of the FINGER Study is called: Changes in Telomere Length And Cognitive Impairment During Multidomain Lifestyle Intervention. This portion of the study is entirely funded by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation.
This research will continue The ARPF’s involvement in pioneering research. Research on the association between cognitive decline and telomere length is virtually nonexistent and there are no longitudinal studies on this topic. The aim of this project is to assess the correlates of telomere length among 60- to 77-year-old individuals who follow a prevention program and to discover if longer telomere length or changes in telomere length during the 2-year program are associated with better memory and Alzheimer’s prevention.