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Open Access Evaluation of Attention and Verbal Memory in Yoga Practicing Pre-Adolescents: A Cross-Sectional Study

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Background and objectives: Yoga is a holistic mind‐body practice used for physical and mental health, which is most commonly looked upon by educators as a wellness program for students. This study aims to analyze whether pre-adolescent school students who practiced yoga performed better in attention and memory tasks in comparison with controls that did not practice yoga.

Design and interventions: This is a single-center cross-sectional study involving healthy students between grades 3 and 9 (8‐14 years of age) from the same school. Forty students who practiced yoga (yogic breathing and postures) for 30 minutes, 5 days a week in the past 12 months (Y group) were assessed against a control group of 40 students in the same age group (NY group) who were not involved in any yogic practices for differences in scores of trail making tests (TMT), Stroop color task, and digit memory tests. Data were analyzed using independent samples t-test with a confidence interval of 95% and P<0.05 considered statistically significant.

Main outcome measure: To establish the difference in scores of visual attention, selective attention, and verbal memory/auditory attention between the groups.

Results: The mean scores for TMT-A (joining numbers in numerical order) were 42.7±21.66 in the Y group compared with 50.8±22.0 for the NY group (P=0.02). Mean scores of TMT-B (joining numbers in intermittent order) were 91.4±34.9 in the Y group compared with 125.7±48.3 in the NY group. The mean scores of digit span forwards in Y and NY groups were 9.82±1.72 and 7.62±1.67, respectively. Digit span backward scores in Y and NY groups were 8.75±22.07 and 5.8±4.82, respectively. The mean scores of Stroop color test in Y and NY groups were 2.02±1.94 and 4.21±1.87, respectively, which were statistically significant (P<0.0001).

Conclusion: Pre-adolescent school students who practiced yoga in the past 12 months showed better performance in visual attention, selective attention, and verbal memory/auditory attention compared with the pre-adolescent controls. Randomized controlled trials are needed to assess the generalizability of these study findings.
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Keywords: Attention span; Memory; Pre-adolescents; Yoga; Yogic breathing; Yogic postures

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2016

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  • JRM is a peer-reviewed medical journal published annually by AARM. It publishes original research, reviews, and editorials that contribute to the understanding of nutritional and botanical influence on underlying mechanisms of chronic illness. The journal was established by Michaël Friedman, ND as the founding editor. The journal's current editor-in-chief is Liz Sutherland, ND of National University of Natural Medicine.
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