Brain Functional Specialization Is Enhanced Among Tai Chi Chuan Practitioners

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2020 Jul;101(7):1176-1182. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2020.02.005. Epub 2020 Feb 25.


Objective: To investigate the effect of long-term Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) practice on practitioners' brain functional specialization compare with the TCC novices.

Design: A cross-sectional study.

Setting: A psychology Institute.

Participants: TCC practitioners (N=22) (52.4±6.8y; 7 men; educated years: 12.18±3.03y) and 18 healthy adults (54.8±6.8y; 8 men; education years: 11.78±2.90y) matched by age, sex, and education were enrolled.

Main outcome measures: Participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging scanning and cognitive test to measure the differences in functional specialization and cognitive function. Functional specialization was evaluated by voxel-mirrored homotopic connectivity (VMHC) method.

Results: Lower middle frontal gyrus VMHC in TCC practitioners compared to controls. For TCC practitioners, the longer they practice, the lower their VMHC in precentral and precuneus. TCC practitioners showed better cognition performance.

Conclusions: Changed VMHC indicated that TCC practice could enhance functional specialization in the middle frontal cortex of practitioners, which may be associated with higher-order cognitive ability.

Keywords: Cognitive function; Frontal cortex; Magnetic resonance imaging; Rehabilitation; Tai Chi Chuan.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Assessment
  • Tai Ji / methods*
  • Tai Ji / psychology*
  • Taiwan
  • Young Adult