Academic journal article International Journal of Yoga

Exploration of Lower Frequency EEG Dynamics and Cortical Alpha Asymmetry in Long-Term Rajyoga Meditators

Academic journal article International Journal of Yoga

Exploration of Lower Frequency EEG Dynamics and Cortical Alpha Asymmetry in Long-Term Rajyoga Meditators

Article excerpt

Byline: Kanishka. Sharma, Sushil. Chandra, Ashok. Dubey

Background: Rajyoga meditation is taught by Prajapita Brahmakumaris World Spiritual University (Brahmakumaris) and has been followed by more than one million followers across the globe. However, rare studies were conducted on physiological aspects of rajyoga meditation using electroencephalography (EEG). Band power and cortical asymmetry were not studied with Rajyoga meditators. Aims: This study aims to investigate the effect of regular meditation practice on EEG brain dynamics in low-frequency bands of long-term Rajyoga meditators. Settings and Design: Subjects were matched for age in both groups. Lower frequency EEG bands were analyzed in resting and during meditation. Materials and Methods: Twenty-one male long-term meditators (LTMs) and same number of controls were selected to participate in study as par inclusion criteria. Semi high-density EEG was recorded before and during meditation in LTM group and resting in control group. The main outcome of the study was spectral power of alpha and theta bands and cortical (hemispherical) asymmetry calculated using band power. Statistical Analysis: One-way ANOVA was performed to find the significant difference between EEG spectral properties of groups. Pearson's Chi-square test was used to find difference among demographics data. Results: Results reveal high-band power in alpha and theta spectra in meditators. Cortical asymmetry calculated through EEG power was also found to be high in frontal as well as parietal channels. However, no correlation was seen between the experience of meditation (years, hours) practice and EEG indices. Conclusion: Overall findings indicate contribution of smaller frequencies (alpha and theta) while maintaining meditative experience. This suggests a positive impact of meditation on frontal and parietal areas of brain, involved in the processes of regulation of selective and sustained attention as well as provide evidence about their involvement in emotion and cognitive processing.

Introduction

Meditation is presently accepted as a tool to achieve altered state of consciousness.[1] It has been studied extensively by philosophers to physiologists. Meditative practice brings significant changes in neurophysiological state[2] which drive toward enhanced cognition and cognitive processes. Extensive research has been performed worldwide to explore the physiological basis of different styles of meditation.[3] The brief practice of meditation has shown improvement in the cognitive ability,[4] psychological well-being, and sleep.[5],[6],[7] Slight improvements in cognitive abilities due to meditation[8] practice may lead to mental well-being and healthy day-to-day life.

Regulation of emotion and attention has been regimen of meditation practices.[9] Due to the involvement of regulatory training of emotions, meditation positively affects the mental health of individuals[10] and efficacy to fight mental disorders.[11] Different types of meditation practice reported an increase in psychological functions with associated pattern of electroencephalography (EEG) in different frequency bands.[12],[13] Particularly, low-frequency oscillations governs internalized attention and positive affect state. Alpha and theta band oscillations have been associated with the activity of multifunctional neuronal networks[14] and correspondingly related to the attention,[15] orientation,[16] memory,[17] and emotions.[18]

Rajyoga meditation is taught by Prajapita Brahmakumaris World Spiritual University ( Brahmakumaris ) and is different from the practice of Rajyoga described in ancient Hindu texts. It involves transcendence of individual from body-conscious to soul-conscious.[19] Sukhsohale and Phatak[20] evaluated physiological variables such as heart rate, respiratory rate, systolic, and diastolic blood pressure for the effects of short- and long-term (STM and LTM) Rajyoga meditation. …

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