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Different meditation techniques result in different documented brain activity
by Global Good News staff writer

Global Good News    Translate This Article
9 October 2012

What happens in the brain during different meditation practices?

Norman Rosenthal, MD, posed this question to an audience of medical professionals in a recent webinar.

Dr Rosenthal is clinical professor of psychiatry at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. He was previously a senior researcher for 20 years at the National Institute of Mental Health (US) where he led the team that first identified Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and pioneered the use of light therapy to treat it.

The webinar coincided with the release in paperback of two of Dr Rosenthal's most important books. The first is the New York Times bestseller Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation. The new paperback edition contains a new chapter on the latest developments in scientific studies on Transcendental Meditation.

The webinar also coincided with the release of the fourth edition of Dr Rosenthal's book, Winter Blues: Everything You Need to Know to Beat SAD, which the New York Times called a landmark book.

Speaking to an audience of scientists, doctors, and other health professionals, Dr Rosenthal described the unique brain patterns seen during the practice of Transcendental Meditation compared with those during other forms of meditation.

Dr Rosenthal showed a photo of neuroscientist Dr Fred Travis placing a set of electrodes on a subject's head in preparation for collecting EEG readings.

'Each electrode is at a certain point on the scalp,' explained Dr Rosenthal, 'and from each electrode you are going to get a reading as to what is happening electrically in the brain just underneath that electrode. So you get a sort of three-dimensional view of the brain and you also get a sense of what kind of electrical activity is going on.'

Next Dr Rosenthal showed a graph that compares the brain wave activity occurring during three different types of meditation: focused attention, open monitoring, and automatic self-transcending (including Transcendental Meditation).

Looking at the chart, Dr Rosenthal said, 'You don't have to be an electrophysiologist to tell that those are three different kinds of patterns . . . and that's just another validation that these are different forms of meditation. They are going to result in different brain wave patterns.'

The chart also shows that as you go from focused attention, to open monitoring, and then to automatic self-transcending, cognitive control decreases. In other words, the meditation becomes more and more automatic.

Copyright © 2013 Global Good News Service

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