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The Mechanisms of Tai Chi and Baduanjin for Preventing Memory Decline Due to Aging

December 21, 2017 - Age-related cognitive decline is a significant public health concern. Recently, non-pharmacological methods, such as physical activity and mental training practices, have emerged as promising low-cost methods to slow the progression of age-related memory decline.

In a new Chinese study recently published by the journal Frontiers in human neuroscience, researchers investigated if Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) and Baduanjin modulated the fractional amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations in different frequency bands and improved memory function.

Older adults were recruited for the randomized study. Participants in the TCC and Baduanjin groups received 12 weeks of training (1 hour a day for 5 days per week). Participants in the control group received basic health education. Each subject participated in memory tests and fMRI scans at the beginning and end of the experiment.

The results showed that compared to the control group: (1) TCC and Baduanjin groups demonstrated significant improvements in memory function; (2) TCC increased low-frequency fluctuations in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in the slow-5 and low-frequency bands; and (3) Baduanjin increased low-frequency fluctuations in the medial PFC in the slow-5 and low-frequency bands. This increase was positively associated with memory function improvement in the slow-5 and low-frequency bands across the TCC and Baduanjin groups.

The findings suggest that TCC and Baduanjin may work through different brain mechanisms to prevent memory decline due to aging.

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