In a recent study, researchers have tested and concluded that Acupuncture can enhance brain activity by improving alertness and executive functions. In this recent study, participants were divided into two separate groups - one group would receive Acupuncture on one point only, the other group would not receive Acupuncture at all. After the participants had received the Acupuncture treatment, they were asked to complete the Attention Network Task (ANT). This test uses visual stimuli on a computer and asks participants to react to the visual stimuli with the use of a computer mouse. The participants who had received the Acupuncture treatment demonstrated significant improvements on their ANT scores. Based on the data, the researchers conclude that acupuncture improves alertness and executive functions.
Anhui Provincial Hospital researchers (Liu et al.) determined that Acupuncture improves both reaction times and improves executive control network efficiency. So, what are these executive functions? These functions are cognitive processes involved in controlling behaviors. The research carried out showed that Acupuncture can help in the ability to control behaviors in the attainment of goals. The results of the investigation were published in the Chinese Journal of Behavioral Medicine and Brain Science.
In another research investigation, MRI technology determined that Acupuncture can regulate memory and emotions. The results showed that Acupuncture has an regulatory effect on advanced cognitive activities such as emotional and memory disorders due to it's two-way regulatory effect on various cerebral zones. The study, carried out by Henan University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Chinese PLA Information Engineering University determined that acupuncture has a regulatory effect on different cerebral zones by either enhancing or attenuating their functional connectivity with the posterior cingulate cortex. Based on the data, the researchers determined that acupuncture regulates brain functional connectivity, thereby helping to control emotions and memory.
A total of 14 healthy subjects participated in this study. They received acupuncture therapy and underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to test functional connectivity. The fMRIs were conducted in three phases: Rest 1 (R1), Acupuncture (AP), and Rest 2 (R2). R1 was conducted before acupuncture, AP during acupuncture needle retention, and R1 after needle removal. For the fMRI testing, a Philips Achieva 1.5T magnetic resonance imaging device was used. During the scan, the patients rested in a supine position on the examination bed and remained conscious. Anatomy imaging and functional imaging were then performed. The clinical results of this study indicate that the known regulatory effect of acupuncture on advanced cognitive activities such as emotional and memory disorders is likely due to its two-way regulatory effect on various cerebral zones, by increasing or attenuating their functional connectivity.