Comparison of the Effectiveness of Yoga Training with Emotion Regulation Training on Students' Working Memory and Cognitive Flexibility

Document Type: Original Article


1 Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Psychology, Islamic Azad University, Roudehen Branch, Iran

2 Department of Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Islamic Azad University, Roudehen Branch, Roudehen, Iran



This study aimed to compare the effectiveness of yoga training with emotion regulation training on students' working memory and cognitive flexibility. The research methodology was quasi-experimental designed as pretest and posttest with control and follow-up groups. Entire second-grade female high schoolers in the 2nd District of Tehran, during 2018-19 academic year, constituted study’s statistical population, of whom 54 students were chosen using cluster random sampling method, and randomly assigned into three groups. The pretest of N-back and Denis and Wenderval’s cognitive flexibility (2010) was administered for all three groups; and then the experimental groups received yoga training and emotion regulation intervention and finally posttest was implemented followed by 4-week follow-up test. Data analysis used by analysis of variance with repeated measurements exhibited that, both trainings significantly resulted in an increase in components of Different recognition and recognition time of working memory and cognitive flexibility (p≤/001). Yoga training had more effect on the component of different recognition and psychological flexibility than on emotional regulation training (p≤/001), while the impact of both two interventions had not a significant difference on the component of recognition time.


Ajilchi, B., Ahadi, H., Nejati, V., & Delavar, A. (2013). Executive functions in depressed and non-depressed individuals. J Clin Psychol, 5(2), 77-88.

Avery, T., Blasey, C., Rosen, C., & Bayley, P. (2018). Psychological flexibility and set-shifting among veterans participating in a yoga program: a pilot study. Mil Med, 183(11-12), 359-363.

Badavi, E., & Zinaali, A. (2019). Effectiveness of yoga training on women's sense of cohesion, self-resilience, and cognitive flexibility. Stud Sport Psychol, 8(28), 69-82.

Baddeley, A. (2012). Working memory: theories, models, and controversies. Annu Rev Psychol, 63, 1-29.

Barkley, R. A. (2011). Barkley deficits in executive functioning scale (BDEFS). Guilford Press.

Bell, M.A., & Wolfe, C.D. (2004). Emotion and cognition: An intricately bound developmental process. Child Dev, 75(2), 366-370.

Berenbaum, H., Raghavan, C., Le, H. N., Vernon, L. L., & Gomez, J. J. (2003). A taxonomy of emotional disturbances. Clin Psychol Sci Pract, 10(2), 206-226.

Bush, G., Spencer, T.J., Holmes, J., Shin, L.M., Valera, E.M., Seidman, L.J., & et al. (2008). Functional magnetic resonance imaging of methylphenidate and placebo in attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder during the multi-source interference task. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 65(1), 10-14.

Chan, A. Y., & Morgan, S. J. (2018). Assessing children's cognitive flexibility with the shape trail test. PLoS One, 13(5), e0198254.

Collins, A. G., & Frank, M. J. (2012). How much of reinforcement learning is working memory, not reinforcement learning? A behavioral, computational, and neurogenetic analysis. Eur J Neurosci, 35(7), 1024-1035.

Cramer, H., Lauche, R., Langhorst, J., & Dobos, G. (2013). Yoga for depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Depress Anxiety, 30(11), 1068-1083.

Dennis, J.P., & Vander Wal, J.S. (2010). The cognitive flexibility inventory: Instrument development and estimates of reliability and validity. Cogn Ther Res, 34(3), 241-253.

Devi, R., & Rathore, M. (2018). Effect of yoga practices on educational achievement. A short summary of reviews. International Journal of Yogic, Human Movement and Sports Sciences, 3(2), 369-373.

Gehan, M.A., & Samiha, M. (2011). Effect of regular aerobic exercises on behavioral, cognitive and psychological response in patients with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder. Life Sci J, 8(2), 366-371.

Gothe, N., Pontifex, M. B., Hillman, C., & McAuley, E. (2013). The acute effects of yoga on executive function. J Phys Act Health, 10(4), 488-495.

Gross, J. J., & Thompson, R. A. (2007). Emotion regulation: Conceptual foundations. In J. J. Gross (Ed.), Handbook of Emotion Regulation, 3-24.

Guimond, S., Chakravarty, M.M., Bergeron-Gagnon, L., & Lepage, R.P.M. (2016). Verbal memory impairments in schizophrenia associated with cortical thinning. Neuroimage Clin, 11, 20-29.

Irandoust, K., & Taheri, M. (2014). Comparison of the effectiveness of aerobic exercises in water and yoga on the memory and dynamic balance of elderly men. Motor-Sport Development and Learning, 6(4), 463-473.

John, O.P., & Gross, J.J. (2004). Healthy and unhealthy emotion regulation: Personality processes, individual differences, and lifespan development. J Pers, 72(6), 1301-1333.

Joice, S. P., Manik, K. A., & Sudhir, P. K. (2018). Role of yoga in attention, concentration, and memory of medical students. Natl J Physiol Pharm Pharmacol, 8(11), 1526-1528.

Kamaradova, D., Hajda, M., Prasko, J., Taborsky, J., Grambal, A., Latalova, K., Ociskova, M., Brunovsky, M., & Hlustik, P. (2016). Cognitive deficits in patients with obsessive–compulsive disorder– electroencephalography correlates. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat, 12, 1119–1125.

Kauts, A., & Sharma, N. (2012). Effect of yoga on concentration and memory in relation to stress. ZIJMR, 2(5), 1-14.

Kercood, S., Lineweaver, T. T., Frank, C. C., & Fromm, E. D. (2017). Cognitive flexibility and its relationship to academic achievement and career choice of college students with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. J Postsecond Educ Disabil, 30(4), 329-344.

Lantrip, C., Isquith, P.K., Koven, N.S., Welsh, K. & Roth, R.M. (2015). Executive function and emotion regulation strategy use in adolescents. Appl Neuropsychol Child, 1-6.

Meiron, O., & Lavidor, M. (2013). Unilateral prefrontal direct current stimulation effects are modulated by working memory load and gender. Brain Stimul, 6(3), 440-447.

Mittal, P. K., Mehta, S., Solanki, R. K., & Swami, M. K. (2014). Comparative study of cognitive flexibility among first episode and multi-episode young schizophrenia patients. Ge. J Psychiatry, 16(4), 130-136.

Mullur, L.M., khodnapur, J.P., Bagali, Sh.C., & Aithala, M. (2012). Influence of yoga pracyiceon anxiety level of apparently healthy female subjects of bijapur (Karnataka). Int J Biomed Adv Res, 3(8), 618-621.

Ocak Karabay, S. (2019). Emotion regulation, teaching beliefs and child–teacher relationships from the perspectives of pre-school teachers. Educ 3 13, 47(1), 101-115.

Peng, P., Congying, S., Beilei, L., & Sha, T. (2012). Phonological storage and executive function deficits in children with mathematics difficulties. J Exp Child Psychol, 112(4), 452-466.

Sedigh, H., & Niusha B. (2017). The effect of Hatha yoga exercises training on executive functions (attention, concentration and working memory) of students with writing disorders. MEJDS, 7, 7-54.

Soltani, I., Hossein, Sh., Bahrainian, A., & Farmani, A. (2013). The mediating role of cognitive flexibility in the relationship between coping styles and resilience with depression. Pajoohande, 18(2), 88-96.

Sörqvist, P. (2016). Grand challenges in environmental psychology. Front Psychol, 7, 583, 1-4.

Staff, R. T., Hogan, M. J., Williams, D. S., & Whalley, L. J. (2018). Intellectual engagement and cognitive ability in later life (the “use it or lose it” conjecture): longitudinal, prospective study. BMJ, 363, k4925.

Tottenham, N., Hare, T. A., & Casey, B. J. (2011). Behavioral assessment of emotion discrimination, emotion regulation, and cognitive control in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Front Psychol, 2, 39, 1-9.

Van der Straten, A., Huyser C., Wolters L., Denys, D., & Van Wingen G. (2018). Long-term effects of cognitive behavioral therapy on planning and prefrontal cortex function in pediatric obsessive-compulsive disorder. Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging, 3(4), 320-328.

Zelazo, P. D., & Cunningham, W. A. (2007). Executive Function: Mechanisms Underlying Emotion Regulation.  In J. J. Gross (Ed.), Handbook of emotion regulation 135–158. The Guilford Press.

Zong, J., Cao, X., Cao, Y., Shi, Y., Wang, Y., Yan, C., Abela, J., Gan, Q., Gong, Q., & Chan, R. (2010). Coping flexibility in college students with depressive symptoms. Health Qual Life Outcomes, 8, 1-6.