Lara Teixeira Lopes, PsyD, MTCM; Luis Carlos Matos, MTCM; Mario Gonçalves, MTCM; Bruno Ramos, BSc; Maria Joao Santos, MTCM; Jorge Machado, PhD; Henry Johannes Greten, PhD
Context • Qigong, a mind-body practice in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), can improve cognitive functions, emotional balance, attention, multitask management, stress-coping, and well-being. One limitation of Qigong research is a lack of adequate controls.
Objective • The current study intended to evaluate whether a single 5-min practice of a White Ball (WB) Qigong exercise could improve the perceptual auditory attention, divided and focused, in adults and whether obtaining potential effects would require a minimum level of training.
Design • The research team designed a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, and single-blinded study.
Setting • The study took place at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences (ICBAS) at the University of Porto in Porto, Portugal.
Participants • Participants were 55 students at the University of Porto, 30 of whom were students attending the second year of medical school at ICBAS with no experience in Qigong and 25 of whom were students in the specialization and Master’s programs in TCM with experience in Qigong.
Intervention • The research team randomly distributed the 30 participants without experience into two groups, a negative control group (n = 15), who watched a wildlife video for 5 min in an orthostatic position, and a positive control group , the verum Qigong group (n = 15), who participated in 5 min of Qigong practice. The Qigong-practitioner group (n = 25), the intervention group, participated in the same 5-min Qigong, doing it with expertise.
Outcome Measures • The study measured reaction time (RT) under two experimental conditions, one an auditory RT task and the second an auditory RT task with visual distraction. The procedure was constant for all the studied groups.
Results • Postintervention, the reaction time (RT) in the negative control and the verum Qigong groups hadn’t changed significantly (P > .05), while that of the Qigong-practitioner group had decreased significantly, with shorter RTs under the two experimental conditions, with P = .006 for the auditory RT and P = .003 for the auditory + visual distraction. Qigong may induce a conditioning effect that comes with regular practice.
Conclusions • The WB Qigong had a positive effect on the AA mechanism, with a significant reduction in RT. The results support the importance of practice to achieve positive effects. People with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism and ADHD, struggle every day for sensory integration of AA mechanisms. Qigong can be taught and easily learned from the age of 2 years until senior ages, and it’s a safe and very low-cost intervention that deserves to be researched further in clinical trials. These potential benefits of Qigong should be confirmed by future studies. (Adv Mind Body Med. 2022;36(3):4-11.)