New research shows that using techniques such as meditation to better manage negative emotions can limit neurodegeneration.
Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s affect millions of people worldwide. They occur when nerve cells in the brain or peripheral nervous system lose function over time and eventually die.
The study, whose findings will be published soon in Nature Aging, asked participants to watch short videos of people experiencing emotional distress, such as during natural disasters or distress situations, and a neutral emotional context. I was shown a clip of the content. Their brain activity was observed using functional MRI.
In the first experiment, researchers compared a group of 27 people over the age of 65 with a group of 29 people around the age of 25. The researchers then repeated the same experiment with her 127 older adults.
Researchers have found differences in patterns of brain activity and connectivity between older and younger people. The difference was most noticeable at the level of default mode network activation.
This is a brain network that is active at rest, and its activity is often disrupted by depression and anxiety, suggesting that it is involved in the regulation of emotions.
“In older adults, who are part of this network, the posterior cingulate cortex, which processes autobiographical memories, shows increased connectivity with the amygdala, which processes key emotional stimuli. These associations are linked to anxiety scores.” It’s stronger in subjects who have high CUM, ruminate, or have negative thoughts,” says Sebastian Baez Lugo, a researcher in Patrik Vuilleumier’s lab and the first author of the study. increase.
The researchers found that changes in connectivity between the posterior cingulate cortex and amygdala may represent a departure from normal aging, especially in people who experience more anxiety, rumination, and negative emotions. It says there is
As the posterior cingulate cortex is one of the areas most susceptible to dementia, this study suggests that the presence of these conditions may increase the risk of neurodegenerative disease.
Dementia is not a specific disease, but rather a broad term that refers to the loss of memory, language, problem-solving, and other thinking skills that are not a normal part of aging. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.
However, the authors say it remains unclear whether poor emotional regulation and anxiety increase the risk of dementia, or vice versa.
“Our hypothesis is that people who are more anxious have less or less capacity for emotional distancing. This may be explained by the fact that they remain “frozen” in a negative state by associating the suffering of others with their own emotional memories.
how to control emotions
Emotional regulation refers to a person’s ability to effectively manage and respond to emotional experiences. People subconsciously use emotion control strategies, and not all techniques are sound.
A sound strategy does no harm and helps to disperse strong emotions. This includes talking to friends, exercising, journaling, meditating, therapy, getting enough sleep, acknowledging your emotions, and taking breaks when needed.
Unhealthy strategies are those that have the potential for long-term consequences and may include:
- Abuse of alcohol or other substances
- avoid or withdraw from difficult situations
- physical or verbal aggression
- Excessive use of social media to the exclusion of other responsibilities