The Potential Advantages of Tai Chi Chuan in Promoting Inhibitory Control and Spontaneous Neural Activity in Young Adults

Author: Qi-Qi Shen1, Heng-Chan Yin1, Lei Cui1,2, Jing-Yi Zhang1, Dong-Ling Wang1, Li-Na Zhu1, Yuan Wang1, Xiu-Juan Li3
1 College of P. E. and Sports, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China.
2 State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China.
3 PE Department, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China.
Conference/Journal: Front Behav Neurosci
Date published: 2021 Nov 4
Other: Volume ID: 15 , Pages: 747733 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2021.747733. , Word Count: 289

Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) is assumed to exert beneficial effects on functional brain activity and cognitive function in elders. Until now, empirical evidence of TCC induced intra-regional spontaneous neural activity and inhibitory control remains inconclusive. Whether the effect of TCC is better than that of other aerobic exercises is still unknown, and the role of TCC in younger adults is not yet fully understood. Here we used resting-state functional MRI (fMRI) to investigate the effects of 8-week TCC (n = 12) and brisk walking (BW, n = 12) on inhibitory control and fractional amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations (fALFF). The results found that TCC had significant effects on inhibitory control performance and spontaneous neural activity that were associated with significantly increased fALFF in the left medial superior frontal gyrus (Cohen's d = 1.533) and the right fusiform gyrus (Cohen's d = 1.436) and decreased fALFF in the right dorsolateral superior frontal gyrus (Cohen's d = 1.405) and the right paracentral lobule (Cohen's d = 1.132).TCC exhibited stronger effects on spontaneous neural activity than the BW condition, as reflected in significantly increased fALFF in the left medial superior frontal gyrus (Cohen's d = 0.862). There was a significant positive correlation between the increase in fALFF in the left medial superior frontal gyrus and the enhancement in inhibitory control performance. The change in fALFF in the left medial superior frontal gyrus was able to explain the change in inhibitory control performance induced by TCC. In conclusion, our results indicated that 8 weeks of TCC intervention could improve processing efficiency related to inhibitory control and alter spontaneous neural activity in young adults, and TCC had potential advantages over BW intervention for optimizing spontaneous neural activity.

Keywords: Tai Chi Chuan; brain plasticity; exercise intervention; functional magnetic resonance imaging; inhibition control; spontaneous neural activity.

PMID: 34803624 PMCID: PMC8600257 DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2021.747733