Effect of the Long-Term Health Practices of Tai Chi, Meditation and Aerobics on Adult Human Executive Attention: A Cross-Sectional Study
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Meditation, Tai Chi, and moderate aerobic exercise have been shown to positively affect executive attention. We compared the executive attention efficiency and aerobic capacity of long-term Tai Chi, meditation plus exercise, aerobic fitness, and sedentary participants. We hypothesized that because meditation and Tai Chi include moderate aerobic exertion and executive attention training, these groups would show significantly greater executive attention efficiency compared to aerobic exercisers or sedentary control groups. Our results support this. Tai Chi and meditation but not aerobic fitness practitioners significantly outperformed sedentary controls on key executive measures: percent switch costs and P3b ERP switch amplitude (Tai Chi, p = .001; p = .031, respectively; meditation, p = .006; p = .003, respectively). This suggests participation in chronic health practices requiring moderate aerobic exertion and attentional focus may offset declines in aerobic, neuromotor, and executive attention capacity often seen in normal aging.