Autonomic and EEG patterns during eyes-closed rest and transcendental meditation (TM) practice: The basis for a neural model of TM practice
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Consciousness and Cognition 8 (3):302-318 (1999)
In this single-blind within-subject study, autonomic and EEG variables were compared during 10-min, order-balanced eyes-closed rest and Transcendental Meditation (TM) sessions. TM sessions were distinguished by (1) lower breath rates, (2) lower skin conductance levels, (3) higher respiratory sinus arrhythmia levels, and (4) higher alpha anterior-posterior and frontal EEG coherence. Alpha power was not significantly different between conditions. These results were seen in the first minute and were maintained throughout the 10-min sessions. TM practice appears to (1) lead to a state fundamentally different than eyes-closed rest; (2) result in a cascade of events in the central and autonomic nervous systems, leading to a rapid change in state (within a minute) that was maintained throughout the TM session; and (3) be best distinguished from other conditions through autonomic and EEG alpha coherence patterns rather than alpha power. Two neural networks that may mediate these effects are suggested. The rapid shift in physiological functioning within the first minute might be mediated by a ''neural switch'' in prefrontal areas inhibiting activity in specific and nonspecific thalamocortical circuits. The resulting ''restfully alert'' state might be sustained by a basal ganglia-corticothalamic threshold regulation mechanism automatically maintaining lower levels of cortical excitability.
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Citations of this work BETA
Fred Travis & Jonathan Shear (2010). Focused Attention, Open Monitoring and Automatic Self-Transcending: Categories to Organize Meditations From Vedic, Buddhist and Chinese Traditions. Consciousness and Cognition 19 (4):1110--1118.
Antonino Raffone, Angela Tagini & Narayanan Srinivasan (2010). Mindfulness and the Cognitive Neuroscience of Attention and Awareness. Zygon 45 (3):627-646.
Marco Sperduti, Pénélope Martinelli & Pascale Piolino (2012). A Neurocognitive Model of Meditation Based on Activation Likelihood Estimation (ALE) Meta-Analysis. Consciousness and Cognition 21 (1):269-276.
Aviva Berkovich-Ohana (forthcoming). A Case Study of a Meditation-Induced Altered State: Increased Overall Gamma Synchronization. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-16.
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