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Moving Towards Well-Being With Tai Chi

MarkgrafAve via iStock photo

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects one in 10 school children in the United States and can persist into adulthood. One in 20 students still suffer from the condition by the time they are of college age. ADHD interferes with young adults' lives at school, at work, and with friends and family.

It is important to develop non-pharmacological interventions that can complement the commonly used stimulant medications such as amphetamines (e.g. Adderall) and methylphenidate (e.g. Ritalin). We are studying the use of Tai Chi, a form of moving meditation, to potentially boost the effects of drugs on neurochemistry in the brain.

In this project, we will train group fitness instructors to teach Tai Chi to UW–Madison undergraduates, which will provide a pool of participants for research studies and as a co-benefit make Tai Chi training available to the university community.

We will also use electroencephalogram (EEG) to begin to look for effects in the brains of undergraduates with ADHD who undergo Tai Chi training. If this line of research proves successful in undergraduates, we hope to try it with other young adults and in high schools as well.

The results of this study are currently being written up in two publications.

People Working on This Study

Alex Converse
Senior Scientist, Waisman Center Brain Imaging Core, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Richard J. Davidson
Founder, Center for Healthy Minds & Healthy Minds Innovations, William James & Vilas Professor of Psychology & Psychiatry

Related Publications

Converse, A. K., Ahlers, E. O., Travers, B. G., & Davidson, R. J. (2014). Tai chi training reduces self-report of inattention in healthy young adults. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8(13). doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00013 PMCID: PMC3902356
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