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Can Meditation Help Paralyzed People Sync Their Brains to Computers?

Practicing mind and body awareness speeds mastery of the systems, study suggests
SUNDAY, Nov. 10, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Yoga and meditation may help paralyzed people learn how to link their brain with a computer, according to a new study.
Systems that connect brains with computers are increasingly used to help patients with physical disabilities like paralysis. But the length of training has been a major obstacle to success, study lead author Bin He, director of the Center for Neuroengineering at the University of Minnesota, said in a Society for Neuroscience news release.
"This research tells us that we can significantly cut this time with practices like yoga and meditation to make these tools more successful for more patients who need these devices," He said.
The study was scheduled for presentation this weekend at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, in San Diego.
Researchers studied 12 people who practiced techniques such as yoga and meditation and a control group of 19 people who did not. All of the participants were trained to use an electroencephalography-based brain computer program, which used sensors on the scalp to pick up electrical impulses from the brain.
The volunteers imagined moving their hands, and the computer program translated that brain activity into the movement of a cursor on the computer screen.
The participants who practiced yoga and meditation learned the brain-computer interface faster than the control group. Also, 75 percent of them became competent with the program, compared to 42 percent of people in the control group.
The researchers said their findings suggest that training in yoga and meditation techniques could help people master the computer-assisted technology in order to help them regain functions lost to injury or disease.
Data and conclusions presented at meetings typically are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
More information
The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has more about meditation (http://nccam.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm ).
SOURCE: Society for Neuroscience, news release, Nov. 10, 2013
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