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The Underlying Neural Mechanisms for Tai Chi

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June 27, 2016 -
Movement-based practices have been found to be effective for relieving the symptoms of clinical conditions as diverse as cancer, Parkinson's disease (PD), chronic pain, fibromyalgia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, and anxiety-related disorders. In addition, they have been shown to elicit measurable changes in physiological stress parameters, cognitive, and physical functioning as well experienced emotional states in healthy individuals.

An important challenge for contemplative science is therefore to advance our understanding of the neurophysiological and neurocognitive mechanisms underlying these observed effects.

A new research by University of California San Diego and Brown University aims to make a contribution in this regard by outlining the state of the art of research on movement-based practices including Tai Chi, Yoga, the Feldenkrais Method, as well as dance.

The featured original research articles report data probing the influence of movement-based contemplative practices on age related GMV decline, functional brain connectivity, sensorimotor processing, multisensory integration, gait parameters, body awareness, and cognitive control.

The featured theory articles propose mechanistic models and hypotheses about (1) how movement-based contemplative practices may engage both bottom-up physiological and top-down cognitive processes, and consequently promote autonomic, emotional and cognitive self-regulation, (2) the relationship between motor and mental skills, and (3) the clinical implications of mindful movement.

Lastly, the featured perspective articles aim to more clearly define key concepts such as movement, embodiment, contemplation, intention, and meta-cognition as they pertain to movement-based contemplative practices. We trust that the contributions will be of interest to basic scientists, clinical researchers, and contemplative practitioners alike, and hope it will inspire further research in the field.


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