AuthorsWillmott, James P.
AffiliationUniversity of Bedfordshire
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractBackground: More research is providing support into the capability of tai chi chuan (TCC) to enhance cognitive abilities, neurological functioning, as well as psychosocial wellbeing and quality of life. These areas of the human mind-body complex become at risk during the process of aging, and TCC has the potential to enhance these areas and mitigate cognitive decline for elderly people. The aim of the present study is to investigate whether elderly people who practice TCC possess greater cognitive abilities and quality of life compared to bowls players and a control group. Method: 30 tai chi chuan practitioners, 30 bowls players and 10 control group participants were used in the sample. Only 10 control group participants were used due to complications with recruitment. The Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART) was used to measure sustained attention, the Stroop Test was used to measure executive function, and the Brown-Peterson Task (BPT) was used to measure working memory. The Older People's Quality of Life Questionnaire - Brief was used to measure quality of life. Age, gender, years of experience and self-reported additional activities were recorded. Test order effects were also measured. Results: Significant differences were found between the tai chi chuan group and bowls group on the Stroop correct responses and the Brown-Peterson Task correct responses in favour of the tai chi chuan group. No other significant differences were found between all groups in cognitive test performance. No significant differences were found between all three groups on quality of life. Significant associations were found between self-reported additional activities practiced and the groups. The total number of activities engaged in and cognitive based activities were found to significantly predict performance on the Brown-Peterson Task. Conclusion: The data in the present study suggests that elderly people who practice TCC may have enhanced executive function and working memory but not sustained attention compared to bowls players. These findings must be interpreted with caution however due to the methodological complications and mediating factors that confound the reliability and validity of the results. Overall, the study still provides some empirical evidence in support of TCC's potential to enhance cognitive ability in the elderly. More research is required to ascertain the specific components of cognitive ability that are enhanced by TCC.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science by Research
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