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The Effects of Meditation on Working Memory and Depression in an Older Adult: A Case Study

20 July 2011


It is well-known that both short-term memory and levels of depression are a frequent problem in older adults. The current literature purports that mindfulness meditation can have salutary effects on both of these concerns. In particular, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) has demonstrated to be effective in treating depression; however, no data currently exists regarding the role of MBCT on both these variables in any population, let alone in older adults. Therefore, the purpose of this pilot case study was to explore the influence of MBCT on working memory and depression. The specific hypotheses tested were that a truncated, 4-week long MBCT course would yield significant increases in levels of mindfulness, significant increases in working memory (both verbal and visuospatial), and significant decreases in depression. The results confirmed the third hypothesis revealing clinically significant decreases and reliable change in depression scores as measured on the Geriatric Depression Scale – Short Form. Additionally, results from one of two tests measuring verbal working memory yielded a clinically significant and reliable change. Qualitative data were also recorded. Implications from these results, especially for the managed care field, are discussed.


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