Transcendental Meditation May Alter EEG Coherence

Article excerpt

CHICAGO -- The regular practice of transcendental meditation leads to enduring neuropsychological changes that are evident in brain-wave patterns, Frederick Travis, Ph.D., reported during a poster presentation at the annual meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research.

These neuropsychological changes are evident in participants not only during the meditation period but, more importantly, during waking cognitive activity.

Dr. Travis suggested that increased waking coherence may provide a signature for global "binding" mechanisms responsible for the development of conscious experience.

Broadband frontal coherence is associated with higher moral reasoning, greater emotional stability, an inner or more spiritual orientation to life, and decreased anxiety, according to Dr. Travis, who serves as director of the EEG/consciousness and cognition lab at the Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, lowa.

In a longitudinal study, Dr. Travis followed 15 individuals for 12 months after they learned transcendental meditation (TM).

The average age of the participants was 20 years, and eight males and seven females participated in the study, he said.

Frontal, central, and parietal EEG recordings of the partipants were made at baseline and at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months after learning TM.

Recordings were made during a computer task in which the participants were shown two numbers 1.5 seconds apart and asked to press a button to indicate which one was larger.

In addition. Dr. Travis said recordings were made during eyes-closed rest (baseline) and TM practice (in subsequent months).

During the participants' periods of meditation, higher broadband (6-45 Hz) frontal coherence levels were seen after the first month of TM and were found across the subsequent 11 months of TM practice. …