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Harvard Review Shows Tai Chi Enhancing Cognitive Performance in Older Adults
January 9, 2014 -
The January 2014 issue of Journal of the American Geriatrics Society published a comprehensive review by researchers from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston about the effect of Tai Chi on cognitive performance in older adults.

To perform this systematic review with meta-analysis, the researchers identified 20 eligible studies with a total of 2,553 participants that met inclusion criteria; 11 of the 20 eligible studies were randomized controlled trials (RCTs), one was a prospective nonrandomized controlled study, four were prospective noncontrolled observational studies, and four were cross-sectional studies. Overall quality of RCTs was modest, with three of 11 trials categorized as high risk of bias.

Meta-analyses of outcomes related to executive function in RCTs of cognitively healthy adults indicated a large effect size when Tai Chi participants were compared with nonintervention controls and a moderate effect size when compared with exercise controls.

Meta-analyses of outcomes related to global cognitive function in RCTs of cognitively impaired adults, ranging from mild cognitive impairment to dementia, showed smaller but statistically significant effects when Tai Chi was compared with nonintervention controls and other active interventions.

Findings from nonrandomized studies add further evidence that Tai Chi may positively affect these and other domains of cognitive function.

The researchers concluded that Tai Chi shows potential to enhance cognitive function in older adults, particularly in the realm of executive functioning and in individuals without significant impairment. Larger and methodologically sound trials with longer follow-up periods are needed before more-definitive conclusions can be drawn.




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