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Research discovers more about Transcendental Meditation and the brain
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1 March 2011
An EEG study published just one year ago discovered that the practice of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique helps the brain reset to a natural state of restful alertness. In the past year, through this and other research, more understanding has been gained about the unique effects of Transcendental Meditation on brain function.
The three-month randomized, controlled study published last February was conducted on college students at American University, Washington, DC, USA. During the study, researchers found students could more highly activate the default mode network, a suggested natural 'ground state' of the brain.
Results of this study were published in the February 2010 issue of the journal Cognitive Processing, and announced 5 March 2010 by Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, U.S.A.
'The finding of significant brain wave differences between students practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique and those simply resting with their eyes closed is especially convincing because subjects were randomly assigned to conditions, and testing was conducted by a researcher unaware of the experimental condition to which the subject had been assigned,' said David Haaga, Ph.D., coauthor and professor of psychology at American University.
'Research has already shown that simply closing one's eyes and relaxing increases the default mode. A significant additional finding of this new study is that activity in the default mode increases during TM compared to simple eyes-closed rest,' said lead author Fred Travis, Ph.D. 'Different meditation techniques entail various degrees of cognitive control. Thus, activation patterns of the default mode network could give insight into the nature of meditation practices.'
Previous published research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, shows Transcendental Meditation practice decreases high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, cholesterol, stroke, and heart failure.
For more on the specific findings of the new study, please see 'Transcendental Meditation Resets Brain'.
Click here to view a video featuring Dr Fred Travis, study lead author and Director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management, speaking in depth about brain research on Transcendental Meditation.
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Updates since this research was first reported:
More insights about the American University study can be found in 'New research on the ''meditating brain'' '. Another, in-depth discussion of the research describes how the daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique creates more efficient, integrated brain functioning; researchers explain that higher levels of EEG coherence in the prefrontal cortex—the 'CEO' of the brain—during Transcendental Meditation enhance the brain's 'neuroplasticity', its capability to change in a positive direction.
Other groundbreaking research published in 2010 in Consciousness and Cognition distinguishes among different EEG patterns found in three major categories of meditation techniques—including during the Transcendental Meditation technique, which is in the third category, automatic self-transcending (meditations that transcend their own activity).
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