Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Kinesiology and Health Science
David A.E. Bolton
Cognitive decline and reduced cognitive function presents a serious risk to the older adult population. As the population of individuals over the age of 65 continues to increase, this presents a need for effective solutions to help people sustain healthy, independent lifestyles. Currently, physical activity is recommended for physical health in older adults and has shown evidence in maintaining cognitive function. In particular, the mind-body practice of yoga is a promising form of physical exercise that shows positive cognitive benefits. While the effects of yoga appear to be promising, the current literature is lacking scientific rigor. This study investigated the effects of a six-week yoga practice on older adults in a standardized response inhibition task called the stop-signal task compared with a sedentary control group that performed six-weeks of computer-based cognitive training exercises. This task provides a precise measure of response inhibition, a key component of cognitive performance. We hypothesized that older adults would show increased cognitive performance as observed through a measure of response inhibition (i.e. stop signal reaction time, or SSRT). Following the 6-week interventions, a two-way mixed model ANOVA revealed no meaningful differences between either group for go reaction time (F = 0.0292, p = 0.868) or SSRT (F = 0.0901, p = 0.77). There was, however, was a trend toward improvement with the SSRT following both interventions (F = 3.467, p = 0.092). The overall trend toward improvement in SSRT for both groups could possibly support both yoga and computer-based cognitive training (such as Lumosity) as viable methods for improving this aspect of cognitive function. However, due to a number of methodological issues, such as recruitment challenges that resulted in a small sample size, further research is required.
Edwards, Elizabeth, "The Effects of a Yoga Intervention on Cognitive Function in Older Adults" (2019). All Graduate Plan B and other Reports. 1371.