Saturday, October 17, 2009

Taiji and Brain Benefits

This is an excerpt from the book, "THINK SMART - A Neuroscientist's Prescription for Improving Your Brain's Performance" by Richard Restak

"Tai chi provides one of the most effective long-term approaches to enhancing peripersonal space (PPS). This ancient dancelike exercise requires the practitioner to perform a series of slow motions while simultaneously focusing attention on specific body areas, especially the hands and tips of the fingers. Over time this leads to alterations in the body image, especially PPS. For example, experienced tai chi practitioners develop a tactile acuity in the fingertips rivaling that of musicians and blind Braille readers. This suggests to C.E. Kerr and his Harvard-based colleauges that tai chi may create a plasticity within the brain similar to that found among individuals who play musical instruments, read Braille, or engage in other activities that require finely honed fingertip sensitivity. "There is a strong connection between tactile spatial acuity at the fingertips and measures of brain function," says Kerr. In order to get the maximum brain benefit, I suggest that you find a well-trained tai chi teacher and take some lessons..."

Peripersonal space: a force field that can be thought of as a virtual envelope around the skin's surface that extends our body boundaries

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