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Tai Chi Helped College Students in Dealing with Pandemic-induced Panic

Mar 27, 2024 #Young People

College students, undergoing crucial cognitive development, face challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic that impacts their executive functions. While existing research indicates positive effects of Tai Chi (TC) on college students’ cognitive abilities, there is a scarcity of studies investigating its impact on executive functions and frontal brain activity.

This study reported by the journal Frontiers in psychology in March 2024 aimed to compare the effects of 24-form simplified Tai Chi training on college students’ executive functions and frontal brain electrical activity. The hypothesis posited that the Tai Chi group would exhibit superior performance compared to the control group during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seventy college students were randomly assigned to either Tai Chi group or control group, engaging in 36 sessions (3 sessions per week, 45 minutes each session) over 12 weeks. Executive inhibitory control was assessed using the Stroop Color and Word Test, and resting brain electrical activity in the frontal area (The anterior cingulate cortex, or ACC) was recorded through Electroencephalography.

The study found that ACC, which has been implicated in several complex cognitive functions, such as empathy, impulse control, emotion, and decision-making, was influenced by group, group-time interaction, and Stroop task-time interaction. Reaction time was affected by time, task condition, task condition-time interaction, and task condition-group interaction.

Notably, the Tai Chi group showed improved ACC and decreased reaction time, particularly in the inconsistent task. Regarding EEG band power, significant Group and Time interaction effects were found. Moreover, within the TC group, significant increases in F3-θ band power and F4-θ band power were noted pre-and post-tests. In the control group, significant decreases were observed in F3-α band power and F4-α band power.

As the results indicate, the pandemic-induced panic may impact frontal lobe brain activity in college students. Tai Chi training not only improves executive inhibitory control but may also enhance localized brain activity, suggesting its potential as a holistic intervention for cognitive and neurological well-being during stressful periods.

By Tai Chi