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Meditators show increased brain coherence during activity, study finds
by Global Good News staff writer
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28 October 2013
A study on brain development and long-term practice of Transcendental Meditation found noticeable differences in brain functioning even outside of meditation.
Dr Fred Travis, Director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition, studied three groups of subjects during active tasks: nonmeditators, new meditators, and longterm meditators. He found three main dimensions that differentiated among the groups and used these dimensions to outline a brain integration scale, which he proposes could be used to track the development of consciousness through the regular practice of Transcendental Meditation.
Subjects had their brain activity monitored during a reaction time task. They sat at a computer and performed a choice reaction time, a task in which they would be given one of two instructions and asked to respond differently to each. For example, if subjects heard a high-pitched sound they would push one button, but would push another button for a low-pitched sound.
In order to perform this task, subjects must be alert and are asked to react quickly. They were hooked up to EEG (electroencephalograph) machines and their brain activity was recorded.
The first result Dr Travis found was increased EEG coherence during task performance.
'Here [Dr Travis] looked at coherence in the frontal part of the brain,' commented Dr Michael Dillbeck in a recent interview. Dr Dillbeck is editor of the recently published Volume 7 of Scientific Research on Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Program: Collected Papers, in which the study is reprinted.
Dr Travis found that coherence in the frontal part of the brain increased during activity, Dr Dillbeck explained. The control (nonmeditating) group had the lowest coherence level, while the long-term practitioners of Transcendental Meditation had the highest coherence.
Secondly, Dr Travis found increased levels of EEG alpha brain wave activity during the task performance in meditators. Alpha waves are characteristic of the state of restful alertness (transcendental consciousness) experienced during the practice of Transcendental Meditation.
Dr Travis found increased EEG alpha over a wide area of the brain—the frontal, central, and parietal areas—and similarly to the other findings, in proportion to how long the subject had been practising Transcendental Meditation.
Future articles will continue to report on Dr Travis's research.
Copyright © 2013 Global Good News Service
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