IMPROVED PERFORMANCE IN THE TOWER OF LONDON TEST FOLLOWING YOGA N. K. Manjunath & Shirley Telles Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation, 9, Appajappa Agrahara, 1st Main, Chamarajpet, Bangalore - 560 018
Abstract: Twenty girls between 10 and 13 years of age, studying at a residential school were randomly assigned to two groups. One group practiced yoga for one hour fifteen minutes per day, 7 days a week, while the other group was given physical training for the same time. Time for planning and for execution and the number of moves required to complete the Tower of London task were assessed for both groups at the beginning and end of a month. These three assessments were separately tested in increasingly complex tasks requiring 2-moves, 4-moves and 5-moves. The pre-post data were compared using the Wilcoxon paired signed ranks test. The yoga group showed a significant reduction in planning time for both 2-moves and 4-moves tasks (53.9 and 59.1 percent respectively), execution time in both 4-moves and 5-moves tasks (63.7 and 60.3 percent respectively), and in the number of moves in the 4-moves tasks (20.9 percent). The physical training group showed no change. Hence yoga training for a month reduced the planning and execution time in simple (2-moves) as well as complex tasks (4,5-moves) and facilitated reaching the target with a smaller number of moves in a complex task (4-moves). Key words: Tower of London; Yoga; Physical training; Planning; Execution. INTRODUCTION Studies on patients with various forms of brain damage have indicated that the ability to plan and sequence behavior in an orderly manner depends partly on the functioning of the pre-frontal cortex (1). The Tower of London test was developed to investigate planning abilities in patients with frontal lobe damage (2), though the test is now used to study planning ability in normal persons (3). In addition to planning strategy, the frontal association areas are needed for the execution of complex functions such as delayed response motor tasks and for changing strategies when required to do so (4). The practice of yoga has been shown to facilitate mental functions such as visuospatial memory (5), and attention and concentration (6). The effect of yoga training has not been studied on planning. The present study aimed at assessing the performance in the Tower of London test, following yoga training. The study also aimed at assessing whether one or both of the two main components of yoga (i.e., increased physical activity and instructions to relax), would influence performance in this test, by comparing two groups, one of which practiced yoga, while the other had physical training, which consisted of increased physical activity without instructions to relax.