Background: Mindfulness, defined as nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment, has been associated with an array of mental and physical health benefits. Mindfulness may also represent a protective factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD). Here, we tested the potential protective effect of trait mindfulness on cognitive decline and AD pathology in older adults at risk for AD dementia.
Methods: Measures of trait mindfulness, longitudinal cognitive assessments, and amyloid-β (Aβ) and tau positron emission tomography scans were collected in 261 nondemented older adults with a family history of AD dementia from the PREVENT-AD (Pre-symptomatic Evaluation of Experimental or Novel Treatments for AD) observational cohort study. Multivariate partial least squares analyses were used to examine relationships between combinations of different facets of trait mindfulness and 1) cognitive decline, 2) Aβ, and 3) tau.
Results: Higher levels of mindful nonjudgment, describing, and nonreactivity were associated with less cognitive decline in attention, global cognition, and immediate and delayed memory. Higher levels of mindful nonjudgment and nonreactivity were related to less Aβ positron emission tomography signal in bilateral medial and lateral temporoparietal and frontal regions. Higher levels of mindful acting with awareness, describing, nonjudgment, and nonreactivity were associated with less tau positron emission tomography signal in bilateral medial and lateral temporal regions.
Conclusions: Trait mindfulness was associated with less cognitive decline and less Aβ and tau in the brain in older adults at risk for AD dementia. Longitudinal studies examining the temporal relationship between trait mindfulness and AD markers, along with mindfulness intervention studies, will be important for further clarifying the potential protective benefits of mindfulness on AD risk.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Amyloid; Cognition; Mindfulness; Prevention; Tau.
© 2022 The Authors.