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Advancing Alzheimer's research with EEG technology and mindfulness-based meditation

Julia Park
Two women chatting

Termed the silent epidemic, Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairments are steadily claiming their place as one of the greatest health challenges of our time. With over 55 million people living with dementia worldwide – a number expected to rise to 78 million by 2030 – the impact of cognitive decline is staggering. [

As we step into November, the spotlight turns to Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. This is a time dedicated to spreading awareness and turning our attention to the preventative measures within our reach. Research is increasingly important in this fight, especially studies that offer potential non-drug interventions to support brain health.

At the core of these preventative measures is the concept of stillness. It’s a powerful, yet overlooked, ally in safeguarding our brain health. 

At Muse, we merge technology with tranquility. A recent pilot study has offered insights into the power of meditation for Alzheimer's disease, supported by leading-edge EEG brain-sensing headbands. The study suggests these wearable headsets provide insight into meditation’s direct effects on the brain. [2]

A new frontier in Alzheimer’s research

A recent pilot study, published in Frontiers, conducted in a smart-home environment has opened new avenues in understanding cognitive health. 

This innovative research used Muse’s portable EEG headbands to examine brainwave changes in individuals across the Alzheimer’s spectrum – from Subjective Cognitive Decline (SCD) to Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) – during two types of meditation practices. The practices included Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and a Greek adaptation of Kirtan Kriya (KK) meditation. [2

This study is one of the first to measure brain response to meditation in a real-life setting, using portable EEG technology and a new meditation protocol. 

The pilot study revealed that brainwaves, especially theta and beta waves, during meditation sessions were significantly associated with cognitive status across different groups. Notably, compared to healthy controls, individuals with SCD and MCI exhibited greater theta oscillations during baseline and MBSR sessions over the temporo-parietal regions of the brain, which are usually involved in sensory processing, language, attention, and memory. [2

During the KK meditation sessions, there were interesting variations in brainwave activity. Healthy controls and SCD participants showed higher beta activity over frontal areas, which are involved with higher cognitive skills such as problem solving and thinking. However, MCI participants exhibited lower beta activity. This divergence provides insights into how different cognitive states respond to meditation and how EEG technology can capture these differences. [2]

These findings point to a potential for using meditation, tracked via EEG, as an early indicator of cognitive decline. 

Elders looking at photos

The power of stillness in a noisy world

Our world is in a constant flux of stimuli. From persistent social media notifications to the 24-hour news cycle, modern life uses every opportunity to challenge our mental health. Over time, this overstimulation can lead to a cycle of stress impacting cognitive function. [3]

But among the chaos lies an ancient practice that feels new: meditation. 

Meditation can slow down brain aging and enhance brain functions that may decline with age, like attentionmemory, and executive function. [4] This may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's or other types of dementia.

Additionally, researchers have linked meditation to structural changes in the brain. This includes increased cortical thickness and enhanced connectivity between brain regions. These changes contribute to the brain’s overall plasticity and its ability to adapt to new challenges as we age. [5]

Beyond structural changes, functional MRI studies have shown altered brain activity in meditators. Meditation in this group has been shown to reduce activity in the default mode network (DMN), and those with meditation experience tend to have reduced mind-wandering and enhanced focus. [6]

It’s clear that stillness is not just a luxury but a non-medical approach to strengthening our cognitive reflexes and potentially delaying the onset of dementia symptoms. 

EEG and meditation: a duo for the future

The emergence of portable EEG technology has started a new era of brain health monitoring. The Muse 2 Headband and the Muse S Headband represent cutting-edge applications of this technology, giving people the ability to track and enhance their meditation practices in real-time. 

The meditation EEG headset captures the brain’s electrical signals, offering insights into your current state of mind. You can see for yourself how your brainwaves change form. For example, high-frequency beta waves associated with active, analytical thought can change to the slower, more relaxed beta waves found during deep meditation.

This real-time feedback reinforces the neuroplastic changes happening by regular meditation practice. And tracking your progress over time helps to refine your meditation practice to support your brain health.

The pilot study reinforces this, showing meditation’s capacity to slow brain aging and enhance functions like attention and memory. [2

Some of the benefits backed by the research include:

  • The ability to use portable EEG for Alzheimer's as a tool for assessing cognitive decline.
  • Meditation can influence attentional focus, which is crucial for individuals in the early stages of cognitive impairment.
  • The differences in brain wave patterns during meditation were noted between healthy controls and those with varying cognitive challenges, showcasing the tailored effects meditation can have on the brain. [2]

The adaptability of EEG devices like the Muse 2 Headband and the Muse S Headband can make it a great option for people who cannot participate in large, clinical studies. The powerful combination of EEG and a stillness practice like meditation highlights an exciting possibility for monitoring and fortifying brain health. 

Man meditating

Curating stillness in daily life

Carving out moments for stillness and mindfulness can seem like an impossible task. But adding short, regular meditation sessions into your daily routine can be a lifeline to brain health and overall well-being. 

Here are some practical tips for adding meditation to your busy schedule:

  1. Start small: Begin with short sessions of 5-10 minutes each day. 
  2. Create a routine: Link your meditation to an existing habit, such as after your morning coffee or before bedtime. The Muse headbands can act as a physical cue, reminding you it’s time to pause. 
  3. Use tech: Access Muse’s premium subscription to track progress and follow along with over 500 guided meditation sessions and expert-led programs. 
  4. Be mindful on the go: Short waiting periods – like during a drive or in a line – can become opportunities for stillness. 
  5. Meditate to recharge: Instead of reaching for your phone, try a meditation session

Final takeaways

The search for cognitive longevity is more important than ever before. As we confront the silent yet growing epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, the importance of stillness stands out as a practice of hope. 

The pilot study conducted using Muse’s EEG technology not only highlights the importance of meditation in enhancing brain health but also shows the potential of EEG technology as a practical tool in monitoring and potentially slowing down early cognitive decline. 

The Muse 2 Headband and the Muse S Headband are more than just devices. Coupled with meditation, they are the gateway to a state of calm, focus, and mental clarity. They stand as ideal non-drug solutions for anyone looking to manage stress, improve mental well-being, and proactively engage in cognitive health care. 

As we observe Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, let’s embrace stillness, supported by EEG, as a commitment to proactive brain health care. It’s an investment in our brain’s health, promising dividends for years to come. 


  1. [1] World Health Organization. (n.d.). Dementia.,injuries%20that%20affect%20the%20brain.
  2. [2] Lazarou, I., Oikonomou, V. P., Mpaltadoros, L., Grammatikopoulou, M., Alepopoulos, V., Stavropoulos, T. G., Bezerianos, A., Nikolopoulos, S., Kompatsiaris, I., Tsolaki, M., & Consortium, A. (2023). Eliciting brain waves of people with cognitive impairment during meditation exercises using portable electroencephalography in a smart-home environment: A pilot study. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 15, 1167410.
  3. [3] McManus, E., Haroon, H., Duncan, N. W., Elliott, R., & Muhlert, N. (2022). The effects of stress across the lifespan on the brain, cognition and mental health: A UK biobank study. Neurobiology of Stress, 18.
  4. [4] Gard, T., Hölzel, B. K., & Lazar, S. W. (2013). The potential effects of meditation on age-related cognitive decline: A systematic review. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1307, 89.
  5. [5] Sevinc, G., Rusche, J., Wong, B., Datta, T., Kaufman, R., Gutz, S. E., Schneider, M., Todorova, N., Gaser, C., Thomalla, G., Rentz, D., Dickerson, B. D., & Lazar, S. W. (2021). Mindfulness Training Improves Cognition and Strengthens Intrinsic Connectivity Between the Hippocampus and Posteromedial Cortex in Healthy Older Adults. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 13.
  6. [6] Garrison, K. A., Zeffiro, T. A., Scheinost, D., Constable, R. T., & Brewer, J. A. (2015). Meditation leads to reduced default mode network activity beyond an active task. Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience, 15(3), 712.

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