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Long-Term Tai Chi Experience Promotes Emotional Stability and Slows Gray Matter Atrophy for Elders

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February 25, 2019 - Brain adverse structural changes, especially the atrophy of gray matter, are inevitable in aging. Fortunately, the human brain is plastic throughout its entire life. A recent Chinese cross-section study aimed to investigate whether long-term Tai Chi exercise could slow gray matter atrophy and to explore the possible links among gray matter volume (GMV), long-term Tai Chi experience and emotional stability in a sequential risk-taking task by using voxel-based morphometry.

Elders with long-term Tai Chi experience and controls, who were matched to Tai Chi group in age, gender, physical activity level, participated in the study. A T1-weighted multiplanar reconstruction sequence was acquired for each participant. Behaviorally, the Tai Chi group showed higher meditation level, stronger emotional stability and less risk-taking tendency in the sequential risk-taking compared to the control group.

Moreover, the results revealed that the GMV of the thalamus and hippocampus were larger in the Tai Chi group compared with the control group. Notably, the GMV of the thalamus was positively correlated with both meditation level and emotional stability.

This study, reported by Frontiers in psychology in January 2019, suggested the protective role of long-term Tai Chi exercise at slowing gray matter atrophy, improving the emotional stability and achieving successful aging for elders.




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