Dr. Yi-Yuan Tang is a professor of neuroinformatics at China's Dalian University of Technology and a visiting scholar at the University of Oregon, where he is currently studying the application of meditation training and its effects on attention and self-regulation. His work on this topic has been published in two papers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
What is integrative body-mind training (IBMT)?
Integrative body-mind training (IBMT) comes from traditional Chinese medicine and incorporates aspects of other meditation and mindfulness training, such as body relaxation, breathing practice, mental imagery and mindfulness. IBMT was developed in the 1990s, and its effects have been studied in China since 1995. Based on the results from thousands of adults and children ranging from 4 to 90 years old in China, IBMT practice improves emotional and cognitive performance and social behavior. IBMT is a science of change and growth which helps people to have better performance, wisdom and happiness in work and life.
What does your research show about IBMT?
First, five days of 20-minute IBMT training shows improved attention, especially greater improvement in conflict resolution, lower levels of anxiety, depression, anger, and fatigue, higher levels of vigor, a significant decrease in stress-related cortisol, and an increase in immunoreactivity compared to the same amount gained from relaxation training (RT).
Second, we found the IBMT mechanism. The IBMT group showed better regulation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) by a ventral midfrontal brain system than did the relaxation training group. IBMT changes the "state" in the coordination of the body and the mind. In other words, IBMT adjusts the body and brain at the same time to get into deep meditation.
What are the implications of your research?
There are 3 implications.
First, our research provides an effective way to reduce stress, and improve attention and positive mood; Therefore, a person could have better personal and professional performances in school, in the workplace and in daily life.
Second, our research sheds lights on the mechanism of how the body and mind interact and work together, and how to apply these principles in our daily lives.
Third, in the modern stressful and overloaded information world, aside from physical training, human beings have to learn mental training techniques to balance life and work, and to improve the quality of life.
How does this work tie in with your other research projects?
Our other research projects focus on how culture influences a person's cognitive abilities in math, thinking, emotional regulation and social behavior, using multi-level methodologies including brain imaging, psycho-physiological measures and genetic analysis. IBMT studies are consistent with these explorations using similar methods and providing evidence for how training induces neuroplasticity and improves emotional regulation. In other words, IBMT sheds light on how to learn from each culture and how to have a better adaptability in different cultures.
These are Dr. Yi-Yuan Tang's written remarks. Please refer to the video interview for exact quotes.
Related Research Papers
Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation
Press release: Body-mind meditation boosts performance, reduces stress
Central and autonomic nervous system interaction is altered by short-term meditation
Press release: Of body and mind, and deep meditation