Tai Chi Chuan optimizes the functional organization of the intrinsic human brain architecture in older adults

Whether Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) can influence the intrinsic functional architecture of the human brain remains unclear. To examine TCC-associated changes in functional connectomes, resting-state functional magnetic resonance images were acquired from 40 older individuals including 22 experienced TCC practitioners (experts) and 18 demographically matched TCC-naïve healthy controls, and their local functional homogeneities across the cortical mantle were compared.

Compared to the controls, the TCC experts had significantly greater and more experience-dependent functional homogeneity in the right post-central gyrus (PosCG) and less functional homogeneity in the left anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the right dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex. Increased functional homogeneity in the PosCG was correlated with TCC experience. Intriguingly, decreases in functional homogeneity (improved functional specialization) in the left ACC and increases in functional homogeneity (improved functional integration) in the right PosCG both predicted performance gains on attention network behavior tests.

These findings provide evidence for the functional plasticity of the brain’s intrinsic architecture toward optimizing locally functional organization, with great implications for understanding the effects of TCC on cognition, behavior and health in aging population… Read full article

An evidence map of the effect of Tai Chi on health outcomes

National Institutes of Health / July 27, 2016

Tai Chi, also known as T’ai chi ch’uan or Taijiquan, developed as an ancient Chinese martial art and is today widely practiced for its health benefits. Many forms of Tai Chi exist, but in western culture, it is most commonly taught as a series of slow, gentle, low-impact movements that integrate the breath, mind, and physical activity to achieve greater awareness and a sense of inner peace and well-being. The meditative movement is designed to strengthen and stretch the body, improve the flow of blood and other fluids, improve balance, proprioception, and awareness of how the body moves through space; and it may be practiced in a group format or alone [1]. Results from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey—a survey of a representative sample of adults in the USA—estimated that approximately 2.3 million adults in the USA practiced Tai Chi in the past 12 months. There is no official licensure granted by national or state professional boards, and there are no official standards for training instructors; thus, individual training programs vary.

Research on effects of Tai Chi on health outcomes continues to expand and has been the subject of many primary research studies and reviews of the literature. The research field covers a wide spectrum of clinical indications, targets a range of populations, and has focused on a variety of settings. A systematic review of systematic reviews identified 35 reviews published in 2010 and concluded that Tai Chi is effective for fall prevention and improving psychological health and was associated with general health benefits for older people [2]. However, the interest in Tai Chi has increased in particular in recent years and since 2010, more than twice as many systematic reviews have been published. In order to provide a broad overview of the research evidence that has been published to date, we conducted a systematic review of systematic reviews of the effects of Tai Chi on health outcomes [3]… Read full article

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