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Optimization of Brain Functioning: Correlates of EEG coherence
by David Orme-Johnson, PhD
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17 November 2017
This excerpt is the third from part 3 in Dr. David Orme-Johnson's series on the Scientific Quest for Enlightenment.
Clear Transcending, EEG Coherence, Creativity, and H-Reflex Are Interconnected
In 1976, while I was Director of Research at MERU (Maharishi European Research University), we were conducting a study contrasting subjects with clear experiences of Transcendental Consciousness [during the practice of Transcendental Meditation] with subjects who were having less clear experiences. Here are some examples of clear experiences that we published in 1981 with our study in the International Journal of Neuroscience.22
''The predominant experience in meditation was a deep, expansive silence, stable and immovable in its character.'' —Canada
''Most of my meditations have been deep, silent wholeness, with long periods of no breath.'' —South Africa
We also had our EEG subjects take standard creativity tests (the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking), and measured them on the H-reflex, an index of the ability of spinal nerves to rebound quickly after being activated.
One day . . . I asked Russell Hebert [one of the researchers at the MERU EEG lab] to have the lab check if there was a correlation between EEG coherence and creativity. [The correlation came out to be r = 0.7118, 22 (The r-value ranges from 0 to 1.0, with a higher number indicating a stronger correlation.)] We had shown for the first time in history that EEG alpha coherence was associated with creativity.
Maharishi Creates the Optimizing Brain Functioning Chart
One day I was explaining to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi [Founder of the Transcendental Meditation programme and Maharishi European Research University] all the different inter-correlations between variables that we'd found. He started drawing . . . [and] handed me his sketch, which was an arrangement of several ovals representing the variables and lines connecting them with the correlations written on them. This chart (see Chart 2) became standard in TM introductory talks throughout the world, and a version of it appears today in the most recent TM research booklets.
Chart 2. Optimization of Brain Functioning: Correlates of EEG coherence.22 (Note: The p-value is the probability that the observed relationship occurred by chance; the smaller the p-value, the stronger the association.)
Chart 2 illustrates how all these different measures are inter-correlated—coherent brain functioning, creativity or ''ideational fluency,'' increased efficiency in learning new concepts, more principled moral reasoning, higher verbal IQ, decreased neuroticism, higher academic achievement, neurophysiological resilience, and the sublime experience of Transcendental Consciousness (TC). Such interconnectedness indicates that they are different aspects of one integrated system.
Maharishi's insight that EEG synchrony and coherence are of fundamental importance to brain physiology and the evolution of consciousness is verified by this array of benefits associated with EEG coherence. Paul Levine's COSPARs had shown that Transcendental Meditation increases EEG coherence. This chart shows what increased EEG coherence through TM means in the practical terms of leading a more creative, intelligent, moral life.
Although coherent brain activity was not yet appreciated by modern neurophysiology in the 1970s, today it is recognized as the dynamic foundation of organizing the diversity of brain computation.6, 7 Russell recently told me that when he spoke with Professor Paul Sauseng of the University of Salzburg, a leading authority on EEG synchrony and coherence,6 Professor Sauseng commented that the field of EEG coherence was playing right into the hands of the TM researchers! He was acknowledging that the field had now evolved to recognize the importance of synchrony, as Maharishi had foreseen and focused us on decades before.
Global Good News will continue to feature excerpts from part 3 of Dr. Orme-Johnson's series on the Scientific Quest for Enlightenment: ''How Transcending Optimizes Your Brain''
∙ Read Part 1, ''A Scientist's Quest for Enlightenment''
∙ Read Part 2, ''The Remarkable Story of the Scientific Exploration of Enlightenment''
∙ Read previous excerpts from Part 3: ''How Transcending Optimizes Your Brain: Revolutionary TM research advanced the science of human potential'' and ''The Discovery That EEG Coherence Increases During Transcendental Meditation''
Dr. David Orme-Johnson is one of the principal researchers on the Transcendental Meditation technique worldwide, with over 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals. He served as Director of Research of the International Center for Scientific Research, and Vice Chancellor of Maharishi European Research University. At Maharishi University of Management, Dr. Orme-Johnson was Head of the Psychology Department, Director of the Doctoral Program in Psychology, Co-Director of the Ph.D. program in the Physiology of Human Consciousness, and Dean of Research.
6. Sauseng P, Klimesch W. What does phase information of oscillatory brain activity tell us about cognitive processes? Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 2008;32(5):1001-13.
7. Palva S, Palva JM. New vistas for α-frequency band oscillations. Trends in Neurosciences. 2007;30(4):150-8.
18. Haynes CT, Hebert R, Reber W, Orme-Johnson DW. The psychophysiology of advanced participants in the Transcendental Meditation program: Correlations of EEG coherence, creativity, H-reflex recovery, and experiences of Transcendental Consciousness. In: Orme-Johnson DW, Farrow JT, editors. Scientific Research on the Transcendental Meditation Program: Collected Papers, Vol. 1. Livingston Manor, NY: Maharishi European Research University Press; 1976. p. 208-12.
22. Orme-Johnson DW, Haynes CT. EEG phase coherence, pure consciousness, creativity and TM-Sidhi experiences. International Journal of Neuroscience. 1981;13:211-7.
Copyright © 2017 Maharishi Foundation USA
SOURCE: Original article in Enjoy TM News includes photos, scientific charts, and complete list of references.
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