Monday, 5 November 2012

Tai chi increases brain size and improves memory

Once again the Journal of Chinese Medicine has reported on the latest research into Chinese medicine. This time it's quite a delightful bit of research into tai chi.

A joint Chinese-US research team has found that practising tai chi leads to increased brain volume and improved cognitive function in elderly people. One hundred and twenty older adults without symptoms of dementia were randomised to four groups (tai chi, walking, social interaction and no intervention) for 40 weeks. Two MRIs were obtained, one before the intervention period, the other after. A battery of neuropsychological tests was administered at baseline, 20 weeks and 40 weeks. Compared to the no intervention group, significant increases in brain volume were seen in the tai chi and social interaction groups. Throughout the study period, improvements in cognitive function scores were also observed in the tai chi group, including measures for dementia, learning capacity and verbal fluency. The social interaction also group showed some improvement on neuropsychological indices, but to a lesser extent than the tai chi group. (Changes in brain volume and cognition in a randomized trial of exercise and social interaction in a community-based sample of non-demented Chinese elders. J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;30(4):757-66).

It time to sign up to your local tai chi class!

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