Cross-sectional white matter microstructure differences in age and trait mindfulness

Wouter Boekel, Shulan Hsieh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The process of aging can be characterized by a decline in cognitive performance, which may be accompanied by deterioration in specific structural properties of the brain. In this study we sought to investigate to what extent mindfulness changes over the aging process, and which alterations in brain structure can be associated to aging and concomitant changes in mindfulness. We collected Mindful Attention Awareness Scale questionnaire data to assess trait mindfulness and acquired diffusion-weighted imaging data fitted to the diffusion tensor model (DTI) in a group of 97 middle-Aged to elderly participants. Our results showed that trait mindfulness increased with age. In terms of white matter structure our results suggested that there was a general increase of omnidirectional diffusion, which favored radial over axial diffusivity, leading to a decrease in fractional anisotropy (FA) in older participants. We further showed that trait mindfulness mediated the FA-Age effect in a localized area consisting of the internal and external capsule, as well as the corona radiata. The implication of this mediation analysis is that trait mindfulness may deter age-Associated neurocognitive decline, perhaps by preventing age-Associated microlesions specifically in cortico-subcortical white matter tracts. This study can be considered a pioneer of using DTI studies to investigate the relationship between age and trait mindfulness.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0205718
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Oct 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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