Science/Tech

Yogis Are Better At Mind Control... On Computers; People With Neurodegenerative Disease Could Benefit

Yoga Strengthens The Mind's Abilty
People who practiced yoga were better able to control a computer with their mind. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Honing the power to control things with the mind may be much more attainable for those who practice yoga and meditation. Yoga is a deeply ingrained ancient practice that melds the mind and body together through focused physical postures and breathing exercise. But just how strong is a yogi's mind? Researchers from the University of Minnesota decided to see. 

The study, which was published in the journal TECHNOLOGY, involved 36 participants who had a high-tech, non-invasive cap strapped onto their heads to pick up brain signals. The 12 participants who were twice as likely to move the cursor with their mind were those who had at least one year of yoga experience under their belts, and practiced at least twice a week for one hour per session. The other 24 participants were healthy adults, however, they had no yoga experience at all. Throughout 30 trials over a four-week period, they were beat over and again by their yogi counterparts. Not only were those who practiced yoga more accurate, they could complete the task three times faster, too.

"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 the study’s lead researcher Bin He, the director of the university's Institute for Engineering in Medicine, in a press 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 findings take huge strides in advancing technology for people with neurodegenerative diseases. Those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), for example, could greatly benefit from a power boost induced by yoga. It can help reconnect broken neurons, thus helping them to move muscles again. Research has rapidly improved in the area of technology and mind control because of how much it can help those who are paralyzed, have lost limbs, or experienced brain trauma. 

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

Source: Cassady K, You A, Doud A, and He B. The impact of mind-body awareness training on the early learning of a brain-computer interface. TECHNOLOGY. 2014.

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