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Objective: The main purpose of this study was to determine the effect of yoga exercises on the executive functions among individuals with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by abnormal behavior, strange speech and a decreased ability to understand reality. Deficits in cognitive abilities are widely recognized as a core feature of schizophrenia. Among the cognitive impairments, executive functions have a more effective role in limiting the ability of patients to maintain and relearn the skills needed to operate in the real world. Executive function refers to a subset of goal-directed processes (ie, planning, scheduling, working memory, task coordination, cognitive flexibility, abstract thinking, etc.) involved in the intentional component of environmental interaction. Yoga and physical exercise can be used as adjunctive intervention for cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia. studies show that the practice of yoga can improve abstraction and mental flexibility, Spatial processing, face memory, working memory, spatial memory, Sensorimotor dexterity, emotion processing, spatial memory, attention and recall, reduce reaction times and increase accuracy in executive function tasks in a variety of settings. Accordingly, in the present study, the researchers decided to use a yoga intervention program assuming that by practicing this course (This include: asanas, pranayama, meditation), people can improve their cognitive functions.
 
Methods: A quasi-experimental study with a pre-post test design was conducted on 24 patients with schizophrenia (adult females) in Isfahan. Participants were randomly assigned to two groups of experimental and control. The experimental group underwent a 20-week yoga training. Wisconsin software and PNSS questionnaire were used to evaluate the executive function and positive and negative symptoms. Analysis of variance with repeated measures and Mann-Whitney were used to analyze the data.
 
Results: In within subject group, the interaction between the group and time in all four
variables was observed (p <0.05). In the experimental group, there was a significant difference between mean scores of perseveration error (P = 0.001), correct answers (P = 0.003),
incorrect answers (P = 0.001), numbers of trials for success on the first category (p=/000) in the pre-test and post-test stages. Also, there was a significant difference between mean scores of perseveration error (P = 0.050), correct answers (P = 0.008), incorrect answers (P = 0.007),
), numbers of trials for success on the first category (P =/000) in the pre-test and follow-up stages, but no significant difference was observed between the post-test and follow-up stages (p >0.05).
The non-parametric Mann-Whitney test was used to study the number of categories scale and the number of attempts to reach the pattern. In within subject group of the number of categories scale, the results showed that in the experimental group, there was a significant difference between the mean number of categories scale in the pre- and post-test stages (P = 0.007) and the pre-test and follow up (P = 0.80). There was no significant difference between the post-test and follow-up stages (p> 0.05). In between group, there was a significant difference between the mean  number of categories scale in the follow-up phase (P = 0.027).
In within group of the  number of attempts, the results showed that in the experimental group, there was a significant difference between the mean number of attempts in the pre- and post-test stages (P = 0.001), pre-test and follow-up (P = 0.006) And post-test and follow-up (P = 0.050) as compared to control group. In between group, there was no significant difference between the mean number of attempts between the two groups (p >0.05).
 
Conclusion: Following 20 weeks of yoga practice, participants in the yoga intervention group showed significantly improved performance on the executive functions. Yoga is a commonly practiced, mind–body activity that has components centering on meditation, breathing, and postures. Yoga has been shown to have immediate psychological effects including decreased anxiety depression, and stress and positive changes in perceived executive function. Studies suggest that yoga has an immediate quieting effect on the sympathetic nervous system hypothalamic, pituitary adrenal axis response to stress. It is well known that stress and anxiety affect cognitive performance, and the 20-week yoga intervention may have resulted in improved psychological states, which led to enhanced cognitive performance on the executive function tasks. Ultimately, yoga exercises can improve cognitive abilities by affecting the structural and functional properties of the brain.
 
     
Type of Study: Original Research Article | Subject: Rehabilitation
Received: 2019/01/21 | Accepted: 2019/07/11

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