Tai chi qigong improves brain function

This study involved 55 healthy right–handed subjects, among which, 23 Chen style Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) practitioners and 32 control subjects were matched for sex, age, and education. All TCC practitioners have been practicing and teaching TCC for more than 5 years. The control participants with no TCC practice were recruited from local community as the non–sports population. 


Using functional near–infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) which can be used to measure the amount of hemoglobin in the blood of a desired area of the brain,  this study measured the resting state and TCC movement state of ordinary people and long–term TCC practitioners, in order to explore the mechanism of action of TCC and the change of brain function in the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC), Motor Cortex (MC) and Occipital Cortex (OC) of TCC training by using fNIRS.


The prefrontal cortex (PFC), motor cortex (MC), and occipital cortex (OC) are involved in the motor behavioral activities in the body. Among these, PFC plays an important role in cognitive control; MC mainly controls the movement of the human body through spatial sensation and movement planning; and the OC is the visual cortex, which is related to visual perception.


Results of this study showed that compared to the control group, the TCC group demonstrated improved cerebral blood flow, improved cerebral oxygenation, improved connections throughout the brain, delayed neurological deterioration, improved cognitive ability, and improved anti-memory decline potential. 





Abstract


Tai Chi Chuan exercise related change in brain function as assessed by functional near–infrared spectroscopy


HuiXie, Ming Zhang , Congcong Huo, GongchengXu, Zengyong Li,  & Yubo Fan



Early studies have shown that Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) contributes to the rehabilitation of cognitive disorders and increases blood oxygen concentration levels in the parietal and occipital brain areas; however, the mechanism of TCC training on brain function remains poorly understood. This study hypothesize that TCC has altered brain function and aims to explore the effects of TCC on functional connection and effective connection of the prefrontal cortex (PFC), motor cortex (MC), and occipital cortex (OC). The participants were 23 experienced Chen–style TCC practitioners (TCC group), and 32 demographically matched TCC–naive healthy controls (control group). Functional and effective connections were calculated using wavelet–based coherence analysis and dynamic Bayesian inference method, respectively. Results showed that beyond the intensity of activity in a particular cortical region induced by TCC, significant differences in brain activity and dynamic configuration of connectivity were observed between the TCC and control groups during resting and movement states. These findings suggested that TCC training improved the connection of PFC, MC and OC in myogenic activity, sympathetic nervous system, and endothelial cell metabolic activities; enhanced brain functional connections and relayed the ability of TCC to improve cognition and the anti–memory decline potential.

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