Regular yoga and meditation can give a boost to the brain, suggests study.
The research could have major implications for treatments of people who are paralyzed or have neurodegenerative diseases.
The study conducted at University of Minnesota involved a total of 36 participants. One group of 12 had at least one year of experience in yoga or meditation at least two times per week for one hour.
The second group included 24 healthy participants who had little or no yoga or meditation experience.
Both groups were new to systems using the brain to control a computer. Both groups participated in three, two-hour experiments over four weeks in which they wore a high tech, non-invasive cap over the scalp that picked up brain activity. The participants were asked to move a computer cursor across the screen by imaging left or right hand movements.
The participants with yoga or meditation experience were twice as likely to complete the brain-computer interface task by the end of 30 trials and learned three times faster than their counterparts for the left-right cursor movement experiments.
Bin He, a biomedical engineering professor in the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering and director of the University's Institute for Engineering in Medicine, said that in recent years, there had been a lot of attention on improving the computer side of the brain-computer interface but very little attention to the brain side.
Professor He gained international attention in 2013 when members of his research team were able to demonstrate flying a robot with only their minds. However, they found that not everyone can easily learn to control a computer with their brains.
The research is published online in TECHNOLOGY.