Yoga and Meditation May Improve Computer-Brain Interface

First Posted: Oct 03, 2014 11:20 AM EDT

Do you meditate or do yoga? Then you may be training your brain to be able to concentrate a bit better than average. Scientists found that people who practice yoga and meditation long term can learn to control a computer with their minds faster and better than people with little experience with meditation or yoga.

During the course of the study, the scientists had one group of 12 participants with at least one year of experience with yoga or meditation participate in a computer control exercise. The volunteers wore a high-tech, non-invasive cap over their scalps that picked up brain activity. This cap was connected to a computer, and volunteers were asked to move a computer cursor across the screen by using their brain and imaging left or right hand movements. Then, the researchers asked a group of 24 healthy participants who had little or no yoga or meditation experience to do the same.

"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 Bin He, lead researcher, in a news release. "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."

The researchers found that those with yoga or meditation experience were twice as likely to complete the brain-computer interface task by the end of 30 trials. In addition, they learned about three times faster than their counterparts for the left-right cursor movement experiments.

The findings reveal potential training a person to undergo in order to help improve this type of interface. This is particularly important when it comes to helping physically disabled individuals.

"Our ultimate goal is to help people who are paralyzed or have brain disease regain mobility and independence," said He. "We need to look at all possibilities to improve the number of people who could benefit from our research.

The findings are published in the journal Technology.

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