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A new research published in journal Technology has revealed that people who practise yoga and meditation are better at using and learning to control computers.
For the study, researchers at the University of Minnesota involved 36 participants, who were divided into 2 groups. One group of 12 participants practised yoga and meditation for a year, at least two times per week for one hour. The other group, having 24 participants, practised little or no yoga or meditation experience. Participants in both the 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.
Participants who practised yoga or meditation 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. The findings could have major implications for treatments of people who are paralysed or have neurodegenerative diseases.
In recent years, there has been a lot of attention on improving the computer side of the brain-computer interface but very little attention to the brain side, said lead researcher Bin He, a biomedical engineering professor in the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering. This comprehensive study shows for the first time that looking closer at the brain side may provide a valuable tool for reducing obstacles for brain-computer interface success in early stages, he said.
Researchers have been increasingly focused on finding ways to help physically disabled individuals who are paralysed, have lost limbs, or suffer from diseases such as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or cerebral palsy. In these cases, brain function remains intact, but these people have to find a way to bypass muscular control to move a wheelchair or control an artificial limb.
He gained international attention last year 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. Many people are unsuccessful in controlling the computer after multiple attempts.
A consistent and reliable electroencephalography (EEG) brain signal may depend on an un-distracted mind and sustained attention. Meditators have shown more distinctive EEG patterns than untrained participants, which may explain their success, researchers said.
Image source: Getty images
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