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Stress, the brain, and student life: A researcher's reflections
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7 November 2013
The Excellence in Action page of Global Good News is featuring this article with photos.
Please click on the following link to read more about 'Stress, the brain, and student life: A researcher's reflections (Part 1)'.
The article draws on a recent interview with Fred Travis, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management.
Dr. Travis is the author of more than 50 research papers that investigate the relation between brain wave patterns, conscious processes, states of consciousness, and meditation practice. He regularly teaches undergraduate and graduate courses, gives seminars, and speaks at conferences around the world on brain development.
Following are a few excerpts from the interview:
A considerable amount of research is being conducted on the brain. Can you tell us why this area of research is so important?
Dr. Fred Travis:
The brain is our interface with the world. We perceive the world and respond to the world based on the functioning of our brain. The brain transforms our experiences of the outer world so that our consciousness can understand it, and it transforms our conscious impulses so we can respond to the world around us.
Everything we do has an impact on the brain and will physically change the brain. Stress, fatigue, etc. make the brain less adaptable, and we become handicapped in how we process and respond to our world.
A healthy brain, functioning without the restrictions caused by stress, is especially important.
What does research reveal about the effect of the Transcendental Meditation technique in helping the brain recover from stress?
When a person is under stress, the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in decision-making and executive functions, is less involved in activity. It's as if it goes ''offline.''
The Transcendental Meditation technique has the exact opposite effect on the brain. Neuroimaging studies show increased activity in the frontal area of the brain during TM practice, as compared to just sitting in eyes-closed rest. In addition to increased activity in the frontal areas, we also see increased activity in the back of the brain—the parietal areas. These two parts of the brain are part of the attentional circuit.
The TM technique strengthens the attentional circuits in the brain responsible for decision-making and executive functions, so that when we need broad comprehension it will be there—even when we are under stress.
Enjoy the full article on the Excellence in Action page.
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