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Brain Integration Scale: Delineating the qualities of world-class performance
by Harald S Harung and Frederick Travis
Cognitive Processing Translate This Article
18 June 2012
Top performers in management, sports, and music have uniquely high brain integration compared to average-performing controls, as well as higher moral reasoning and more peak experiences. The fourth study in a series by American and Norwegian researchers was published in May in Cognitive Processing.
See Part I of this news release: Research breakthrough: High brain integration underlies winning performances. The release continues:
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Measured brain activity
The studies carried out by the researchers include measurements of the performers' brains by using electroencephalography, EEG. Hospitals use this equipment and method to determine possible brain injuries after traffic accidents. EEG, however, can also be used to look at the extent of integration and development of several brain processes.
The researchers looked at three different measurements that all reflect how well the brain works as a whole:
1) Coherence, which shows how well the various parts of the brain cooperate,
2) Amount of alpha waves, which reflect restful alertness, and
3) How economically or effectively the brain works.
The three measurements are then put together in an expression of brain refinement, the Brain Integration Scale.
World-class performance has so far been mostly regarded from a psychological point of view, especially speaking of management. Researchers often explain management skills as a result of special personal or psychological characteristics that some have, and others don't.
''Our research in brain activity and brain integration is done from more of a natural science angle. By such means, we hope we are closer to an effective and comprehensive understanding of why some succeed better than others,'' says Harald Harung of the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences in Norway.
In all the groups of top performers, measurements were checked by using control groups. The controls were average performers, such as low-level managers or amateur musicians.
The data gave one surprising result: Among the musicians, both the professionals and the amateurs turned out to have a high level of brain integration. In the two other studies, this measurement showed major differences between the persons with top-level performance and the control groups.
''We believe that for musicians, the explanation might be that classical music in itself contributes to such integration, regardless of your performance level,'' says Dr. Harung.
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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
1. 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
2. Harung, H. S. (2012). Illustrations of Peak Experiences during Optimal Performance in World-class Performers: Integratimg Eastern and Western Insights. Journal of Human Values, 18(1), 33-52, doi:10.1177/097168581101800104
3. Travis, F., Harung, H. S., & Lagrosen, Y. (2011). Moral Development, Executive Functioning, Peak Experiences and Brain Patterns in Professional and Amateur Classical Musicians: Interpreted in Light of a Unified Theory of Performance. Consciousness and Cognition, 20(4), 1256-1264
4. Harung, H.S., Travis, F., Pensgaard, A. M., Boes, R., Cook-Greuter, S., Daley, K. (2011). Higher psycho-physiological refinement in world-class Norwegian athletes: brain measures of performance capacity. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, Vol 21, Issue 1, pages 32, February 2011, doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.01007.x
5. Harung, H. S., Heaton, D. P., Graff, W. W., & Alexander, C. N. (1996). Peak performance and higher states of consciousness: A study of world-class performers. Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp. 3-23
© Copyright 2012 AAAS, the science society.
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