EEG and Meditation/Yoga

Electroencephalographic (EEG) studies of meditative states have been conducted for almost 60 years. The general outcome of these studies is that different aspects of EEG are affected differently by different meditation practices. This means that each meditation exercise affects brain activity states and regular meditation exercises may cause long-term (trait) stable changes in brain neurophysiology and cognitive architecture.

Many of the published papers have reported significant physiological changes in the brain during meditation/yoga, thus proving the causal effect link. At the same time, not all changes could be interpreted in a positive way. Some of the brain activity changes seem to be quite similar to those changes that characterize some known pathological conditions (for details see).

Taken together, published scientific studies suggest that not any meditation/yoga technique is suitable for everyone. Then, how one could understand which technique would be the most beneficial for her- or him-self.

Here the objective assessment of brain functional state such as QEEG could be the most helpful, since it allows identifying the individuals who are most likely to exhibit positive alterations in psychophysiological functioning during concrete technique of meditation/yoga, and this would guarantee the efficient use of meditation as a therapeutic procedure.

QEEG being a “natural” window into the human brain gives objective results on how meditation affects different functions in each individual brain. In this context if one knows in advance his/hers individual EEG profile, he or she could choose the meditation/yoga technique which would be most suitable and in such a way diminish the risk of negative effects.

Decades of BM-Science (Brain & Mind Technologies Research Centre) studies on brain and mind activity in different conditions during health and neuropsychopathology advanced our understanding of QEEG informativeness. Integration of the results from these diverse studies permitted us to formulate the idea of EEG-Guided meditation/yoga.

Many years of collaboration between BM-Science Centre and Dr. Tarja Kallio-Tamminen resulted in a creation of original and unique concept: EEG-Guided meditation/yoga. The main idea is that your meditation/yoga is guided by your neurophsychophysiological architecture measured from QEEG in the form of The BrainMind Audit® profile.

Selected references

EEG and meditation

  • Aftanas L.l., Golocheikine S.A. Human anterior and frontal midline theta and lower alpha refect emotionally positive state and internalized attention: high-resolution EEG investigation of meditation. Neuroscience Letters, 2001;310:57-60

  • Aftanas L.l., Golocheikine S.A. Non-linear dynamic complexity of the human EEG during meditation. Neuroscience Letters, 2002;330:143–146

  • Hebert R., Lehmann D., Tan G., Travis F., Arenander A. Enhanced EEG alpha time-domain phase synchrony during Transcendental Meditation: Implications for cortical integration theory. Signal Processing, 2005;85:2213–2232

  • Kim D.-K., Lee K.-M., Kim J., Whang M.-C., Kang S.W. Dynamic correlations between heart and brain rhythm during Autogenic meditation. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2013;7:414.

  • Lobusov E.V., Fingelkurts Al.A., Fingelkurts An.A., Kaplan A.Ya. EEG analysis of deep relaxation states induced by QiGong practice. Vestnik Moskovskogo Universiteta (Bulletin of Moscow University). Series 16. Biology, 2001;3:36-43 (in Russian)

  • Lutz A., Slagter H.A., Dunne J.D., Davidson R.J. Attention regulation and monitoring in meditation. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 2008;12(4):163–169

  • Saggar M., King B.G., Zanesco A.P., MacLean K.A., Aichele S.R., Jacobs T.L., Bridwell D.A., Shaver P.R., Rosenberg E.L., Sahdra B.K., Ferrer E., Tang A.C., Mangun G.R., Wallace B.A., Miikkulainen R., Saron C.D. Intensive training induces longitudinal changes in meditation state-related EEG oscillatory activity. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2012; 6:256

  • Takahashi T., Murata T., Hamada T., Omori M., Kosaka H., Kikuchi M., Yoshida H., Wada Y. Changes in EEG and autonomic nervous activity during meditation and their association with personality traits. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 2005;55:199– 207

  • Tei S., Faber P.L., Lehmann D., Tsujiuchi T., Kumano H., Pascual-Marqui R.D., Gianotti L.R.R., Kochi K. Meditators and Non-Meditators: EEG Source Imaging During Resting. Brain Topography, 2009

  • Travis F., Haaga D.A.F., Hagelin J., Tanner M., Arenander A., Nidich S., Gaylord-King C., Grosswald S., Rainforth M., Schneider R.H. A self-referential default brain state: patterns of coherence, power, and eLORETA sources during eyes-closed rest and Transcendental Meditation practice. Cognitive Processing, 2009

  • Travis F., Haaga D.A.F., Hagelin J., Tanner M., Nidich S., Gaylord-King C., Grosswald S., Rainforth M., Schneider R.H. Effects of Transcendental Meditation practice on brain functioning and stress reactivity in college students. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 2009;71:170–176

EEG, consciousness and altered states of consciousness

  • Benedetti G., Marchetti G., Fingelkurts Al.A., Fingelkurts An.A. Mind operational semantics and brain operational architectonics: A putative correspondence. The Open Neuroimaging Journal, 2010;4:53-69

  • Fingelkurts Al.A., Fingelkurts An.A. Is our brain hardwired to produce God or is our brain hardwired to perceive God? A systematic review on the role of the brain in mediating religious experience. Cognitive Processing, 2009;10(4):293-326

  • Fingelkurts Al.A., Fingelkurts An.A., Bagnato S., Boccagni C., Galardi G. EEG oscillatory states as neuro-phenomenology of consciousness as revealed from patients in vegetative and minimally conscious states. Consciousness and Cognition, 2012;21:149–169

  • Fingelkurts An.A., Fingelkurts Al.A. Persistent operational synchrony within brain default-mode network and self-processing operations in healthy subjects. Brain and Cognition, 2011;75(2):79-90

  • Fingelkurts An.A., Fingelkurts Al.A., Bagnato S., Boccagni C., Galardi G. Toward perational architectonics of consciousness: basic evidence from patients with severe cerebral injuries. Cognitive Processing, 2012;13:111–131

  • Fingelkurts An.A., Fingelkurts Al.A., Kallio S., Revonsuo A. Cortex functional connectivity as a neurophysiological correlate of hypnosis: an EEG case study. Neuropsychologia, 2007;45(7):1452-1462

  • Fingelkurts An.A., Fingelkurts Al.A., Kallio S., Revonsuo A. Hypnosis induces a changed composition of brain oscillations in EEG: a case study. Contemporary Hypnosis, 2007;24(1):3-18

  • Fingelkurts An.A., Fingelkurts Al.A., Neves C.F.H. Consciousness as a phenomenon in the operational architectonics of brain organization: Criticality and self-organization considerations. Chaos, Solitons & Fractals, 2013;55:13–31

  • Fingelkurts An.A., Fingelkurts Al.A., Neves C.F.H. Natural world physical, brain operational, and mind phenomenal space-time. Physics of Life Reviews, 2010;7(2):195-249

  • Fingelkurts An.A., Fingelkurts Al.A., Neves C.F.H. Phenomenological architecture of a mind and Operational Architectonics of the brain: the unified metastable continuum. Journal of New Mathematics and Natural Computing, 2009;5(1):221-244

  • Vaitl D., Lehmann D., Ott U., Sammer G., Strehl U., Birbaumer N., Kotchoubey B., Kubler A., Miltner W.H.R., Putz P., Strauch I., Wackermann J., Weiss T. Psychobiology of Altered States of Consciousness. Psychology Bulletin, 2005;131(1):98–127

Negative effects of meditation

  • Jaseja H. Meditation may predispose to epilepsy: an insight into the alteration in brain environment induced by meditation. Medical Hypotheses, 2005;64(3):464–7

  • Jaseja H. Potential role of self-induced EEG fast oscillations in predisposition to seizures in meditators. Epilepsy & Behaviour 2010;17(1):124–125.

  • Jaseja H. Meditation potentially capable of increasing susceptibility to epilepsy - a follow-up hypothesis. Medical Hypotheses, 2006;66:925–928

  • Nicholson P. Does meditation predispose to epilepsy? EEG studies of expert meditators self-inducing simple partial seizures. Medical Hypotheses, 2006;66:674–676.

  • Lansky E.P., St Louis E.K. Transcendental meditation: a double-edged sword in epilepsy? Epilepsy & Behaviour, 2006;9:394–400.

  • Castillo R.J. Depersonalization and Meditation. Psychiatry, 1990;53:158-167

  • Persinger M.A. Transcendental meditation (TM) and general meditation are associated with enhanced complex partial epileptic-like signs: evidence for "cognitive" kindling. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1993;76:80-82

  • Heide F.J., Borkovec T.D. Relaxation-Induced Anxiety: Mechanism and Theoretical Implications. Behavioral Research Therapy, 1984;22:1-12

  • Shapiro DH Jr. Adverse effects of meditation: a preliminary investigation of long-term meditators. Int J Psychosom, 1992;39(1-4):62-7.

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