Traditional Chinese Mind-Body Exercise Baduanjin Modulate Gray Matter and Cognitive Function in Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Brain Imaging Study

Author: Guohua Zheng1, Bingzhao Ye2, Rui Xia3, Pingting Qiu3, Moyi Li3, Yuhui Zheng3, Zhenyu Xiong3
1 College of Nursing and Health Management, Shanghai University of Medicine & Health Sciences, Pudong New District, Shanghai, China.
2 Shangrao People's Hospital, Shangrao, Jiangxi, China.
3 College of Rehabilitation Medicine, Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shangjie University Town, Fuzhou, China.
Conference/Journal: Brain Plast
Date published: 2021 Oct 19
Other: Volume ID: 7 , Issue ID: 2 , Pages: 131-142 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3233/BPL-210121. , Word Count: 237

Previous studies found traditional Chinese mind-body exercise Baduanjin could modulate cognition of community older adults.

This study aims to investigate the effect of 6 months of Baduanjin exercise on brain structure and cognitive function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

The MCI older adults were randomly assigned into either Baduanjin training, brisk walking training or usual physical activity control group. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) and Wechsler Memory Scale-Chinese Revised (WMS-CR) were applied to measure gray matter volume (GMV), global cognitive ability and memory at baseline and end of intervention.

Compared to usual physical activity, Baduanjin exercise significantly improved MoCA, WMS-CR scores, WMS-MQ, and mental control and comprehension memory subscores of the WMS-CR; significantly increased the GMV in the temporal gyrus, frontal gyrus, parietal gyrus, medial occipital gyrus, cingulate gyrus and angular gyrus after 6 months of intervention. Compared to brisk walking, Baduanjin significantly improved MoCA scores and picture reproduction subscores of memory, and significantly increased the GMV in the right frontal gyrus, precentral gyrus, occipital gyrus. Furthermore, the increased GMV in the right medial temporal gyrus was significantly associated with improvement in the MoCA scores.

The present study suggested that regular Baduanjin training could have a positive effect in increasing brain gray matter and improving cognitive function in older adults with MCI.

Keywords: Baduanjin; Traditional Chinese mind-body exercise; brain gray matter; cognitive function.

PMID: 34868878 PMCID: PMC8609496 DOI: 10.3233/BPL-210121