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Effects of the Transcendental Meditation Program on Neurophysiology, Cognitive Development, and Health in College Students - Part I

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19 December 2007

American University in Washington, DC, is in the midst of the largest study ever to evaluate the effects of the Transcendental Meditation program on college students.

The two-year, $1.2 million randomized control study of 250 meditating students from American, Georgetown University, George Washington University, Howard University, and the University of the District of Columbia was approved by American's Internal Review Board of scientists and physicians. The following is the project overview and the scope of research.

Previous pilot studies have found that the Transcendental Meditation program reduces classroom stress and other psychological disorders; improves physical and mental health, including the reduction of cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and negative health behaviors; decreases learning disorders such as ADHD; enhances intellectual development and academic achievement; and develops full brain potential. The present project will build on these earlier findings through a large-scale research and demonstration protocol that will evaluate the effects of TM practice on brain, behavior, and health simultaneously.

Three hundred undergraduate and graduate students from American University and surrounding college campuses will learn the Transcendental Meditation program during the two-year project. The research will evaluate the health and educational outcomes of TM practice in these students, with additional focus on students with learning disorders.

Over the course of the study, the 250 participating students will be measured at baseline and again after six months of practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique. Approximately half the students will learn the Transcendental Meditation technique during the initial semester of the project (Spring 2006), with the other half serving as wait-listed controls during this time period.

The control group will then learn the Transcendental Meditation program at the start of the next semester (Fall 2006), with follow-up for approximately one year. Standard measures for all students in the study will include blood pressure, health behaviors (smoking, alcohol, and substance usage), psychological stress, emotional intelligence, practical intelligence, and academic achievement.

In addition, three subgroups of students (50-60 per subgroup) will be evaluated, respectively, for 1) neurophysiological integration, using EEG brainwave coherence measures, 2) cognitive intelligence, and 3) attention/inattention, using the Connors Continuous Performance Test and self-rating scale, for those students with a recent diagnosis of attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity.

Please visit the website which showcases forty years of research on the Transcendental Meditation Programme.

Part II of this article will be featured by Global Good News on 20 December, 2007.

Copyright © 2007 Stress-Free Schools

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