What’s This Research About?
Previous research has shown that yoga and exercise both have beneficial effects on mood and anxiety.
It has also been shown that certain neurotransmitter activity, γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), is decreased in mood and anxiety disorders.
Researchers wanted to test if practicing yoga is associated with increased brain GABA levels in an area of the brain called the thalamus. The thalamus is located deep inside the middle of the brain and is the primary relay station for most signals that are being transmitted throughout the brain.
Their hypothesis was that improvement in mood would be associated with increased GABA levels while increased anxiety would be correlated with a decrease in GABA levels. They suspected that practicing yoga would increase subjects’ GABA levels and improve mood and anxiety ratings.
TITLE: Effects of Yoga Versus Walking on Mood, Anxiety, and Brain GABA Levels: A Randomized Controlled MRS Study
PUBLICATION: The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
AUTHORS : Chris C. Streeter, Theodore H. Whitfield, Liz Owen, Tasha Rein, Surya K. Karri, Aleksandra Yakhkind, Ruth Perlmutter, Andrew Prescot, Perry F. Renshaw, Domenic A. Ciraulo, and J. Eric Jensen
γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA): The primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the human brain. It helps to reduce excitation in the brain. A lack of GABA in the brain is associated with increased instances of mood and anxiety disorders.
Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS): a neuroimaging technique used to study metabolism in the brain.