|Year : 2018 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 70-72
Yoga therapy for sustained attention
V Vineetha1, S Vinutha1, K Karthiyanee1, A Kumar1, HR Nagendra2, Tikhe Sham Ganpat3
1 Department of Physiology, Sri Devaraj Urs Medical College, Kolar, Karnataka, India
2 Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana University, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Yoga, Sanchi University of Buddhist-Indic Studies, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India
|Date of Web Publication||11-Jun-2018|
Dr. Tikhe Sham Ganpat
2nd Floor, Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Good Governance and Policy Analysis, Bhadbhada Square, Bhopal - 462 003, Madhya Pradesh
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Background: Sustained attention (SA) is a vital function mediated by the right frontal-parietal cortex. The six letter cancellation task (SLCT) measures SA. Assessment of SA in volunteers undergoing Yoga therapy (YT) training compared to control group is the theme of the present study. Materials and Methods: Sixty healthy volunteers, 48.75 ± 3.86 years of mean age were participated in the present study. Thirty volunteers selected from Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana University, Bengaluru, India were practiced YT for 7 days. They were compared with a control group of 30 healthy volunteers from Sri Devaraj Urs Medical College, Kolar, India matched for the duration of the study, age, gender, and socioeconomic background that were not exposed to YT training but continued their usual college routine during that period. All volunteers were assessed for SA using SLCT. Results: The YT group showed 18.06% significant increase (P = 0.010, paired samples t-test) in total attempted (TA) score on SLCT. Similarly, there was 19.03% significant increase (P = 0.008, paired samples t-test) in net score (NS). However, there was 26.32% decrease in wrongly attempted (WA) score which was statistically not significant (P = 0.637, paired samples t-test). There was no significant change in control group. Increase in TA and NS and decrease in WA is related with enhancement of SA. Conclusion: The results suggest that YT enhances SA in healthy volunteers. Additional well-designed trial with long-term follow-up is needed before a strong recommendation can be made.
Keywords: Healthy volunteers, net score, six letter cancellation task, sustained attention, yoga
|How to cite this article:|
Vineetha V, Vinutha S, Karthiyanee K, Kumar A, Nagendra H R, Ganpat TS. Yoga therapy for sustained attention. Arch Med Health Sci 2018;6:70-2
| Introduction|| |
Sustained attention (SA) is the capacity to attend to a task in hand for a required period. It is closely associated with task difficulty or complexity. It is closely associated with the mental effort required by the task in hand. The capacities to study and listen to a lecture for an extended length of time are examples of SA. The six letter cancellation task (SLCT) requires SA, as well as the ability to shift attention. The availability of the Indian normative data for the SLCT allowed wider application of this test in clinical practice for studying SA. Yoga comprises a wide range of mind/body practices from postural and breathing techniques to deep relaxation and meditation. Yoga therapy (YT) tailors these to the health needs of the individual. Similarly, YT helps to promote all-round positive health, as well as assisting particular medical conditions such as depression, stress, and anxiety. Particularly, it is more appropriate for many chronic conditions that persist despite conventional medical treatment. Moreover, YT helps in empowering individuals to progress toward improved health, happiness and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of Yoga. The present study was designed to obtain preliminary estimates of the effectiveness and safety of YT compared with a control group in healthy volunteers.
| Materials and Methods|| |
Sixty healthy volunteers, 48.75 ± 3.86 years of mean age were participated in the present study. Thirty volunteers selected from Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (S-VYASA) University, Bengaluru, India were practiced YT training for 7 days. They were compared with a control group of 30 healthy volunteers selected from Sri Devaraj Urs Medical College, Kolar, India matched for duration of the study, age, gender, and socioenvironmental background that were not exposed to YT training but continued their usual college routine during that period.
- Inclusion criteria – Both healthy male and females
- Exclusion criteria – Learning disabilities and cognitive deficits, neurological or psychological disturbances and under medication for health problem.
Pretest-Posttest with control group study.
S-VYASA University, Bengaluru and Sri Devaraj Urs Medical College, Kolar, India.
Informed consent was obtained from all the participants.
The institutional review board approval
The study was approved by the institutional review board of S-VYASA University, Bengaluru and Sri Devaraj Urs Medical College, Kolar, India.
The YT  for 7 days was practiced by YT group [Table 1]. The YT consists of Kriya (cleansing techniques) Sithilikarana Vyayama (loosening and stretching practice), Suryanamaskara (practice of salutation to sun), Asana (posture), Pranayama (breathing practice), and Dhyana (meditation). They were compared with a control group of 30 healthy volunteers (medical college staff) selected from Sri Devaraj Urs Medical College, Kolar, India matched for the duration of the study, age, gender, and socioeconomic background that were not exposed to YT training.
The following Āsanas were used during YT training:
Prārthanā (prayer), Suryanamaskāra (Salutations to the sun), Tādāsana (palm tree pose), Tiryaka Tādāsana (swaying palm tree pose), Kati Chakrāsana (waist rotating pose), Trikonāsana (triangle pose), Vajrāsana (sleeping thunderbolt pose), Ushtrāsana (camel pose), Shashānkāsana (pose of the moon or hare pose), Supta Vajrāsana (sleeping thunderbolt pose), Bhujangāsana (cobra pose), Dhanurasana (bow pose), Yogamudrāsana (psychic union pose), Matsyāsana (fish pose), Chakrāsana (wheel pose), Śavāsana (deep relaxation technique), Prānāyāma (breathing practices), and Prārthanā (prayer). The total duration of YT was for 90 min.
The SLCT consists of a test worksheet which specifies six target letters to be cancelled, and a “working section” consisting of a 22 × 14 array of randomly arranged letters of the alphabets. Study participants were asked to cancel as many of the six target letters in the array as possible in the allotted time of 1:30 min. Participants were told that there are two possible strategies: (i) Canceling all six letters at once or (ii) selecting one target letter out of the six at a time. They were asked to choose whichever strategy suited them. They were also told that they could follow a horizontal, vertical, or a random path according to their choice. Scoring was carried out by a person blind to the details of the data. The total number of cancellations and wrong cancellations were scored and the net score (NS) calculated by subtracting wrong cancellations from total cancellations. Each component measures a different quantity. The total number of cancellations is a measure of motor skill combined with cognitive function. The number of wrong cancellations is a measure of lack of focused attention and mental distractions. NS is a measure of SA.
The data were entered into Excel sheet. The level of significance was conducted using P value. P ≤ 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS version 10 (Sun Micro solutions, Gujarat, India for PC Windows 2000). The results were expressed as mean ± standard deviation. The Kolmogorov–Smirnov test showed that the data were normally distributed. Hence, paired samples test was used to compare means of the data collected before and after the YT.
| Results|| |
The YT group showed 18.06% significant increase (P< 0.01), paired samples t-test) in total attempted (TA) score on SLCT. Similarly, there was 19.03% significant increase (P = 0.008, paired samples t-test) in NS. However, there was 26.32% decrease in wrongly attempted (WA) score which was statistically not significant (P = 0.637, paired samples t-test) [Table 2] whereas there was no significant change in the control group in regard to TA, NS, and WA [Table 3].
|Table 2: Six letter cancellation task scores before and after the yoga therapy|
Click here to view
|Table 3: Six letter cancellation task scores before and after the control|
Click here to view
| Discussion|| |
Cancellation tasks require visual selectivity and a repetitive motor response. They not only require SA but also visual scanning and activation and inhibition of rapid responses. The present study found a significant increase in SA scores after the YT whereas there was no significant change in control group in regard to TA, NS, and WA. Previous study on SLCT reported cyclic meditation brings about a greater improvement in task performance (NS = 26%, P < 0.001) than supine rest (NS = 14%, P < 0.001).
The significant increase in NS for the YT group on the SLCT suggests that the yoga improves functioning of the right frontal-parietal cortex mediating SA. Similarly, the significant increase in TA by the IYT group suggests improvement in the frontal association areas, where the cognitive function guiding motor skills are located. Decrease in WA suggests that yoga improves functions in the orbitofrontal area of the prefrontal cortex, which is hypothesized to mediate distraction avoidance. Reduced anxiety can improve performance on tasks requiring SA  and yoga's anxiety-reducing effects  could also have facilitated this. Increase in TA and NS and decrease in WA was related with enhancement of SA  and several components in the YT could have contributed to the increase in the YT group's SA scores. Any kind of rhythmic resonance has the power to make the mind more relaxed and peaceful  and so improve attention span. Vedic mantras are highly rhythmic and uniformly filled with resonance. Their daily chanting by the YT group may have been partly responsible for the observed increase in the group's SA scores.
| Conclusion|| |
The practice of YT enhances SA in healthy volunteers compared to control group. Additional well-designed randomized control trial with long-term follow-up is needed before a strong recommendation on wider acceptance and application of the YT module can be made.
Authors would like to acknowledge Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (S-VYASA) University and Sri Devaraj Urs Medical College, Tamaka, Kolar, Karnataka, India for granting permission to carry out this work.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
| References|| |
Rangan R, Nagendra HR, Bhatt R. Effect of yogic education system and modern education system on sustained attention. Int J Yoga 2009;2:35-8.
] [Full text]
Posner MI. Chronometric explorations of mind. In: Hillsdale NJ, editor. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates;1978. p. 269.
Büssing A, Michalsen A, Khalsa SB, Telles S, Sherman KJ. Effects of yoga on mental and physical health: A short summary of reviews. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2012;2012:165410.
Cramer H, Lauche R, Langhorst J, Dobos G. Yoga for depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Depress Anxiety 2013;30:1068-83.
Ross A, Friedmann E, Bevans M, Thomas S. National survey of yoga practitioners: Mental and physical health benefits. Complement Ther Med 2013;21:313-23.
Lezak MD. Neuropsychological Assessment. 3rd
ed. New York, USA: Oxford University Press; 1995.
Agarwal AK, Kalra R, Natu MV, Dadhich AP, Deswal RS. Psychomotor performance of psychiatric inpatients under therapy: Assessment by paper and pencil tests. Hum Psychopharmacol 2002;17:91-3.
Sarang SP, Telles S. Immediate effect of two yoga-based relaxation techniques on performance in a letter-cancellation task. Percept Mot Skills 2007;105:379-85.
Rueckert L, Grafman J. Sustained attention deficits in patients with right frontal lesions. Neuropsychologia 1996;34:953-63.
Fuster JM. The Prefrontal Cortex Anatomy, Physiology and Neurophysiology of the Frontal Lobe. 2nd
ed. New York: Raven Press; 1989.
Rao LS, Subbakrishna DK, Gopukumar K. Nimhans Neuro-Psychology Battery-2004 Manual. The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences; 2004.
Saltz E. Manifest anxiety: Have we missed the data? Psychol Rev 1970;77:568-73.
Wallace RK, Benson H, Wilson AF. A wakeful hypometabolic physiologic state. Am J Physiol 1971;221:795-9.
Kumar S, Telles S. Meditative states based on yoga texts and their effects on performance of a letter-cancellation task. Percept Mot Skills 2009;109:679-89.
Yogitha B, Nagarathna R, John E, Nagendra H. Complimentary effect of yogic sound resonance relaxation technique in patients with common neck pain. Int J Yoga 2010;3:18-25.
] [Full text]
[Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]