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A coherent brain is a high-performing brain: Scientific research on Transcendental Meditation
by David W. Orme-Johnson, Ph.D.

Transcendental Meditation Magazine    Translate This Article
16 February 2012

Dr. David Orme-Johnson* continues his review of the scientific research on Transcendental Meditation, discussing the Brain Integration Scale developed by Dr. Fred Travis, Director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition; and the default mode network of the brain (DMN).

Please see Part I of this article, 'The science behind the experience of enlightenment: Measuring the immeasurable'; Part II, 'Early research on Transcendental Meditation finds fourth major state of consciousness: Dr David Orme-Johnson'; and Part III, 'The meditating brain: Research shows increased EEG coherence during Transcendental Meditation'.

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A Coherent Brain is a High-Performing Brain. Dr. Fred Travis, Director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management, and Dr. Alarik Arenander, along with Dr. Wallace and colleagues, have taken the EEG research to a whole new level. They confirmed that EEG coherence increases as soon as one starts meditating, suggesting that transcending is an automatic reflex rather than a learned behavior.

Their research also showed that a meditator's EEG coherence during a computer task increases progressively over the period of a year, showing that the state of high coherence achieved during meditation becomes a trait of high coherence in activity, reflecting the stabilization of Transcendental Consciousness in daily life. This is the definition of the growth of enlightenment.

One of Dr. Travis's innovations is a Brain Integration Scale, which indexes a person's advancement towards this state of enlightenment. Meditators practicing advanced TM-Sidhi techniques tend to score the highest; long-term meditators score higher than new meditators; and new meditators' scores increase over time.

Dr. Travis and colleagues have further validated the scale by showing that top-level managers and top athletes score unusually high on the measure—indicating that TM practitioners develop the same style of brain functioning found in high performance people, regardless of profession.

Default Mode Network. Dr. Travis and colleagues have also connected TM research with a recent discovery in neuroscience, the default mode network of the brain (DMN), which some researchers feel may be the brain substrate of one's sense of self. TM practice increases EEG coherence among DMN structures, suggesting that growth toward enlightenment is associated with increased coherence and synchrony in the ''self-system'' of the DMN. (See Figure 2).

Figure 2: (A) The brain's default mode network (DMN), which is believed to be associated with one's sense of self. The red areas show the two major hubs of the DMN, which are intimately connected to each other (blue areas). (B) The absence of EEG alpha synchrony during ordinary rest—during the ordinary experience of self. (C) TM practice increases EEG synchrony between cortical areas overlapping the DMN (see blue lines), suggesting that the experience of the unbounded Self in Transcendental Consciousness results from increased synchrony and coherence in the DMN (Hebert et al., 2005).

Click here to watch a video of Dr. Orme-Johnson discussing the body of scientific research on the Transcendental Meditation technique.

Global Good News will continue to feature excerpts from Dr. Orme-Johnson's article, The science behind the experience of enlightenment.

Source: Enlightenment: The Transcendental Meditation Magazine

* David W. Orme-Johnson, Ph.D., was a founding faculty member and chair of the department of psychology at Maharishi University of Management (MUM) in Fairfield, Iowa, USA for over two decades. Dr. Orme-Johnson has published over 100 scientific papers on the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi® programs and is co-editor of Volumes 1 and 5 of Scientific Research on Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Program: Collected Papers. He is a nationally recognized researcher on human potential and currently serves as a consultant on research on meditation.

© Copyright 2012 Maharishi Foundation USA

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