A recent randomised control trial conducted by scientists from the US and China demonstrated that Tai Chi increased brain volume. 


Brain 350x213The study involved the University of South Florida, the University of California and Fudan Univertsity. A representative sample of 120 elderly from Shanghai, China was randomized to four groups (Tai Chi, Walking, Social Interaction, No Intervention) for 40 weeks. Two MRIs were obtained, one before the intervention period, the other after. Comparison of changes in brain volumes in intervention groups with the No Intervention group were assessed by t-tests. Compared to the No Intervention group, significant increases in brain volume were seen in the Tai Chi and Social Intervention groups (p < 0.05). Improvements also were observed in several neuropsychological measures in the Tai Chi group, including the Mattis Dementia Rating Scale score (p = 0.004), the Trailmaking Test A (p = 0.002) and B (p = 0.0002), the Auditory Verbal Learning Test (p = 0.009), and verbal fluency Test(p = 0.01). The Social Interaction group showed improvement on some, but fewer neuropsychological indices. No differences were observed between the Walking and No Intervention groups

The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease:

Mortimer JA, Ding D, Borenstein AR, DeCarli C, Guo Q, Wu Y, Zhao Q, Chu S. Changes in brain volume and cognition in a randomized trial of exercise and social interaction in a community-based sample of non-demented Chinese elders J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;30(4):757-66. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2012-120079.

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