A recent study that was published in the journal PLOS One examined the effects of the Japanese sauna practice “tononou” on the neural system. The study focused on the physiological, neural, and mood changes experienced by twenty adults after a series of alternating hot sauna and cold water treatments, followed by a period of rest. The results revealed that sauna exposure significantly increased neural alpha and theta powers, which improved attention and brain efficiency. Furthermore, participants reported that behavioral tasks were easier to complete after sauna exposure. Researchers also developed an artificial intelligence model that could accurately identify the neural state with 88% accuracy.
Totonou is a Japanese outdoor sauna practice that involves repeated exposure to a hot sauna followed by cooling off in cold water or snow. The study found that this practice activates the thermoregulatory physiologies of warm-blooded organisms, resulting in numerous health benefits. Previous research has shown that regular sauna use can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 65%, and recent studies have suggested that sauna exposure may promote the release of endorphins and growth hormones, leading to improved mood and cognition.
The present study aimed to build on previous research by investigating the psychological and cognitive effects of totonou. The study involved 20 healthy adults who underwent a series of sauna treatments and cognitive assessments. The results demonstrated a significant reduction in P300 EEG amplitude post-sauna, suggesting improved relaxation and attention efficiency. Neural oscillation analyses revealed an increase in participants’ alpha and theta power, indicating enhanced cognitive and emotional processing. Behavioral task efficiency was also found to be significantly higher in the sauna group compared to the control group.
Overall, the study highlighted the immediate benefits of totonou on cognitive performance and emotional well-being. The development of an artificial intelligence-based electroencephalography classifier also holds promise for future research and clinical applications. These findings inform the potential for saunas to be used as non-invasive interventions for various cognitive and mood-related conditions.