It has been long known that the ancient practices of yoga and meditation can help one to gain more control over their mental states. Both practices are closely tied to improved focus, a heightened sense of calm, and the honed ability to stay centered in the present.
A new study performed at the University of Minnesota has found that both yoga and meditation can greatly improve the ability of individuals to operate a brain-computer interface, compared to individuals who have no experience in either practice. The researchers state that this discovery could lead to major improvements for paralyzed individuals, and others who retain cognitive function, but not physical mobility.
The study authors explain, “brain-computer interface (BCI) systems allow users to interact with their environment by bypassing muscular control to tap directly into users’ thoughts.”
Bin He, the lead researcher of the study, states, “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. 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 study consisted of 36 volunteers, 12 of which had one year or more of experience in yoga or mediation. “Experience” was defined as practicing at least twice a week for one hour. The other 24 individuals had either no experience, or very minute experience, in yoga or mediation. During the four-week study, both groups were introduced to a brain-computer interface, and asked to mentally move the cursor across the screen.
Results showed that the group with the yoga or meditation background learned the task three times faster than the control group, and were also twice as likely to finish the task within 30 trials. Researchers hypothesize that the connection may have to do with the EEG brain signal, which is picked up by the interface, being more consistent in those who meditate or practice yoga, due to enhanced focus.
Just a few of the individuals that this study could benefit are those with cerebral palsy, ALS and amputees. We eagerly await further research regarding this topic, as it could spell a greater quality of life for so many people.
-The Alternative Daily