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Research breakthrough: High brain integration underlies winning performances
by Harald S Harung and Frederick Travis
Cognitive Processing Translate This Article
18 June 2012
World-class performers in management, sports and music often have uniquely high mind-brain development
Scientists trying to understand why some people excel—whether as world-class athletes, virtuoso musicians, or top CEOs—have discovered that these outstanding performers have unique brain characteristics that make them different from other people.
A study* published in May in the journal Cognitive Processing found that 20 top-level managers scored higher on three measures—the Brain Integration Scale, Gibbs's Socio-moral Reasoning questionnaire, and an inventory of peak experiences—compared to 20 low-level managers that served as matched controls. This is the fourth study in which researchers have been able to correlate the brain's activity with top performance and peak experiences, having previously studied world-class athletes and professional classical musicians.
''What we have found,'' says Fred Travis, director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, USA, ''is an astonishing integration of brain functioning in high performers compared to average-performing controls. We are the first in the world to show that there is a brain measure of effective leadership.''
''Everyone wants excellence,'' says Harald Harung of the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences in Norway. ''Yet, current understanding of high performance is fragmented. What we have done in our research, is to use quantitative and neurophysiological research methods on topics that so far have been dominated by psychology.''
Dr. Travis, Dr. Harung, and colleagues have carried out a total of four empirical studies comparing world-class performers to average performers. This recent study and two others have examined top performers in management, sports, and classical music. In addition, a number of years ago Dr. Harung and colleagues published a fourth study on a variety of professions, such as public administration, management, sports, arts and education.
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Global Good News will continue to feature the news release on this body of research, the most recent study of which presents a new Unified Theory of Performance. The news release includes a discussion of important questions raised by the research, such as the possibility of developing the brain for higher performance—citing research by co-author Travis and others showing greater EEG coherence in Transcendental Meditation practitioners.
Contact: Ken Chawkin
Maharishi University of Management
Harung, H. S., Travis, F., (2012) Higher mind-brain development in successful leaders: testing a unified theory of performance. Cognitive Processing Vol 13, Number 2, 171-181, DOI: 10.1007/s10339-011-0432-x
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© Copyright 2012 AAAS, the science society.
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