Memory & Mental Health

Memory is the process in which information is encoded, stored, and retrieved. Encoding allows information from the outside world to be sensed in the form of chemical and physical stimuli. In the first stage the information must be changed so that it may be put into the encoding process. Storage is the second memory stage or process. This entails that information is maintained over short periods of time. Finally the third process is the retrieval of information that has been stored. Such information must be located and returned to the consciousness. Some retrieval attempts may be effortless due to the type of information, and other attempts to remember stored information may be more demanding for various reasons.

Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment". From the perspective of positive psychology or holism, mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life, and create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience. According to World Health Organization (WHO) mental health includes "subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, intergenerational dependence, and self-actualization of one's intellectual and emotional potential, among others."

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Qigong and Tai-Chi for Mood Regulation

NHS Networks, 5 February 2021
Clinical studies including randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses have shown that both Qigong and Tai-Chi have beneficial effects on psychological well-being and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Qigong and Tai-Chi frequently involve anchoring attention to interoceptive sensations related to breath or other parts of the body, which has been shown to enhance nonreactivity to aversive thoughts and impulses. Preliminary studies suggest that the slow movements in Qigong and Tai-Chi with slowing of breath frequency could alter the autonomic system and restore homeostasis, attenuating stress related to hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis reactivity and modulating the balance of the autonomic nervous system toward parasympathetic dominance

Highlights

Qigong and Tai-Chi are traditional self-healing, meditation, and self-cultivation exercises originating in ancient China. The practice, which is rooted in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) theories, is characterized by coordinated body posture and movements, deep rhythmic breathing, meditation, and mental focus.

According to TCM theories, a subtle energy, or Qi, exists in three main Dantian energy centers and circulate throughout the body by way of 12 main meridians or pathways. A free-flowing, well-balanced Qi system is believed to reflect good health, whereas psychosomatic illnesses are the result of Qi blockage in certain areas of the body. Qigong and Tai-Chi, as mind-body techniques, are believed to promote the equilibrium of Qi and to alleviate Qi blockages, which may potentially prevent or delay the progression of diseases.

Many Western scientists challenge whether Qi exists. To address these queries, tools with the intent to measure Qi have recently been developed. An electrodermal device has been designed to measure skin electrical conductivity as a proxy index for Qi levels. It has been shown that the patterns of electrical conductivity correlate with the expected patterns of Qi. Compatible with TCM theories, studies have shown that electrical impedance levels are lower for many acupuncture points compared with the surrounding nonacupuncture skin areas, and conductance is higher between points on theoretical acupuncture energy channels than between points not on these channels. In addition, the practice of Qigong was shown to increase conductivity along acupuncture channels.

Conclusion

Preliminary evidence suggests that Qigong and Tai-Chi may be potentially beneficial for management of depressive and anxiety symptoms in healthy adults and patients with chronic illnesses. Both Qigong and Tai-Chi are easily adaptable forms of mind-body exercises that can be practiced at any place or any time without special equipment. Thus, Qigong and Tai-Chi should be widely promoted for the improvement of emotional well-being. Given the limited numbers of RCTs and their methodological weakness, the results should be interpreted with caution. In the future, more rigorous studies with physiological evidence are warranted.

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Tai Chi Training Evokes Significant Changes in Brain White Matter Network in Older Women

 NHS Networks
Cognitive decline is age-relevant and it can start as early as middle age. The decline becomes more obvious among older adults, which is highly associated with an increased risk of developing dementia (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease). White matter damage was found to be related to cognitive decline through aging. The purpose of the current study was to compare the effects of Tai Chi (TC) versus walking on the brain white matter network among Chinese elderly women.

Methods

A cross-sectional study was conducted where 42 healthy elderly women were included. Tai Chi practitioners (20 females, average age: 62.9 ± 2.38 years, education level 9.05 ± 1.8 years) and the matched walking participants (22 females, average age: 63.27 ± 3.58 years, educational level: 8.86 ± 2.74 years) underwent resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI) scans. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and graph theory were employed to study the data, construct the white matter matrix, and compare the brain network attributes between the two groups.

Results

Results from graph-based analyses showed that the small-world attributes were higher for the TC group than for the walking group (p < 0.05, Cohen’s d = 1.534). Some effects were significant (p < 0.001) with very large effect sizes. Meanwhile, the aggregation coefficient and local efficiency attributes were also higher for the TC group than for the walking group (p > 0.05). However, no significant difference was found between the two groups in node attributes and edge analysis.

Conclusion

Regular TC training is more conducive to optimize the brain functioning and networking of the elderly. The results of the current study help to identify the mechanisms underlying the cognitive protective effects of TC.

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Tai Chi training might promote emotional stability and slow gray matter atrophy in seniors

PsyPost - By ERIC W. DOLAN September 14, 2019

Tai Chi training might promote emotional stability and slow gray matter atrophy in seniors

Older-man-doing-tai-chi-by-Doug-Hay-702x459.jpg

Long-term Tai Chi practitioners tend to have better emotional stability and more gray matter in important brain structures, according to new research that examined people who were between 60 and 70 years old. The study was published in Frontiers in Psychology.

“Adverse structural changes in the brain, especially the atrophy of gray matter, are inevitable in aging,” said study author Zhiyuan Liu, an associate professor at Shaanxi Normal University in China.

“Tai Chi is a popular exercise for older adults in China which combines Chinese martial arts and meditative movements with a kind of yogic relaxation through deep breathing. Compared with other exercises that contain a meditation element, Tai Chi is generally recognized as a safe and low-cost complementary therapy.”

The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to compare the brain structure of 31 long-term Tai Chi practitioners to 31 participants who were matched in age, gender, and physical activity level. Those in the Tai Chi group had been practicing Tai Chi for about 10 years on average.

The Tai Chi group scored higher on tests of mindfulness and emotional stability compared to the control group. Tai Chi group also had larger gray matter volume in the two important brain regions, the left thalamus and the left hippocampus.

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Tai Chi Increases Grey Matter Volume in Older Adults

NHS Networks - Tai Chi & Chi-kung for rehabilitation

Tai Chi Increases Grey Matter Volume in Older Adults: A Brain Imaging Study.

The aim of this study is to investigate and compare how 12-weeks of Tai Chi Chuan and Baduanjin exercise can modulate brain structure and memory function in older adults. Magnetic Resonance Imaging(MRI) and memory function measurements (Wechsler Memory Scale-Chinese revised, WMS-CR)were applied at both the beginning and end of the study. Results showed that both Tai Chi Chuan and Baduanjin could significantly increase grey matter volume (GMV) in the insula, medial temporal lobe (MTL), and putamen after 12-weeks of exercise. No significant differences were observed in grey matter volume (GMV) between the Tai Chi Chuan and Baduanjin groups. We also found that compared to healthy controls, Tai Chi Chuan and Baduanjin significantly improved visual reproduction subscores on the WMS-CR. Baduanjin also improved mental control, recognition, touch and comprehension memory subscores of the WMS-CR compared to the control group. Memory quotient (MQ)and visual reproduction subscores were both associated with GMV increases in the putamen and hippocampus. Our results demonstrate the potential of Tai Chi Chuan and Baduanjin exercise for the prevention of memory deficits in older adults.

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