Understanding of the neurocognitive mechanisms of meditation is still limited. Meditation can be conceptualized as "a set of complex emotional and attentional regulation strategies developed for a variety of purposes including the development of emotional well-being and balance". Affective (emotional) and cognitive (attentional) control are therefore the most likely mechanisms by which meditation could impact aging and AD. Specifically, meditation could enhance the controlling role of mid-brain structures and the executive network over structures involved in memory, emotions, and regulation of the immune system. This would lead to better emotional and cognitive control which in turn would be associated with improved mental and physical health.
The Age-Well clinical trial is a monocentric, randomized, controlled trial aiming to assess an 18-month preventive meditation-based intervention directly targeting the attentional and emotional dimensions of aging to promote mental health and well-being in elderly people. One hundred thirty-seven cognitively unimpaired older adults were randomized to either an 18-month meditation-based intervention, a structurally matched foreign language training, or a passive control arm. The impact of the intervention and underlying mechanisms are assessed with detailed cognitive, behavioral, biological, neuroimaging and sleep examinations.