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

Author: Yue C1, Zou L2, Mei J1, Moore D3, Herold F4,5, Müller P4,5, Yu Q2, Liu Y6, Lin J2, Tao Y1, Loprinzi P3, Zhang Z1
1College of Physical Education and Sport Science, Soochow University, Suzhou 215021, China.
2Exercise and Mental Health Laboratory, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen 518060, China.
3Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management, The University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677, USA.
4Research Group Neuroprotection, German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), Leipziger Str. 44, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany.
5Department of Neurology, Medical Faculty, Otto von Guericke University, Leipziger Str. 44, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany.
6Department of Kinesiology and Program in Neuroscience, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 9 47405, USA.
Conference/Journal: Healthcare (Basel).
Date published: 2020 Mar 9
Other: Volume ID: 8 , Issue ID: 1 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3390/healthcare8010057. , Word Count: 272

Background: 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 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.

KEYWORDS: DTI; Tai Chi; brain network of white matter; exercise; small world attributes

PMID: 32182844 DOI: 10.3390/healthcare8010057