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Students practising Transcendental Meditation had higher scores on Brain Integration Scale: American University study on TM and college stress
Maharishi University of Management, USA Translate This Article
3 March 2009
Contact: Ken Chawkin
Please see Part I—News Release on the publication February 24 of a new study—''Effects of Transcendental Meditation practice on brain functioning and stress reactivity in college students''—in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Psychophysiology.
The study—a collaboration between the American University Department of Psychology in Washington, D.C., and the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management (M.U.M.) in Fairfield, Iowa—was the first random assignment study of the effects of meditation practice on brain and physiological functioning in college students.
The study found that students practicing Transcendental Meditation react better to stress, are less fatigued, and have more 'integrated' brains—that the meditation technique may be an effective non-medicinal tool for students to 'buffer themselves' against the intense stresses of college life.
KEY MEASURES OF THE STUDY EXPLAINED:
1. Higher Brain Integration Scale includes three brain measures:
- Frontal coherence, a measure of coordinated functioning of executive brain areas;
- Higher alpha and lower gamma EEG, a change in processing style from attention to outer boundaries (gamma EEG) to attention to one's inner state of well-being (alpha EEG);
- More appropriate cortical preparatory response, a measure of efficiency of applying mental and motor resources to the task.
2. Faster habituation to a loud tone as measured by skin conductance response:
The sympathetic nervous system responds to loud new tones. However, when you hear the noise again, you do not have to respond to it again. The person who is more balanced habituates—stops responding—very quickly. The person who is more anxious and worried will continue to respond to the tone. This is what was seen in the non-meditating students.
3. Less sleepiness:
The posttest was at the end of the semester—one week before Finals Week—the time of greatest pressure and stress for a student. Those students who practiced TM and regularly experienced the state of restful alertness during the practice were more awake. They reported less chance of dozing in eight common situations, on a standardized sleepiness scale.
4. Implications of higher scores on the Brain Integration Scale
Higher scores mean greater frontal coherence, more alpha activity, and better match of brain activation and task demands. Higher scores indicate more optimal brain functioning to support more successful action. High scores on the Brain Integration Scale are correlated with:
- higher emotional stability,
- higher moral reasoning,
- more openness to experience, and
- decreased anxiety.
Preliminary research indicates that professional athletes (Norwegian), who won gold in World games and Olympic games, had higher Brain Integration scores. Top-level managers also have higher Brain Integration scores. Thus increasing one's Brain Integration Scale scores can provide a new basis for success, a new foundation to deal with the challenges we face in an ever-accelerating world.
Replays of the News Conference webcast at M.U.M. on 24 February 2009, announcing the study's publication, may be viewed at: www.brainresearch.mum.edu/. The webcast featured a live EEG demonstration of real-time changes in brain functioning during Transcendental Meditation practice in a student participant in the study.
For more on the newly published study at American University, please visit:
- Brain Integration graph and Habituation graph; and news release.
© Copyright 2009 Maharishi University of Management®
Global Good News comment:
Global Good News will continue to report on articles about this research that have been appearing in the news media since the study was published 24 February.
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