Research: MOHAN and COLLEAGUES,

Listed in Issue 210

Abstract

MOHAN and COLLEAGUES, Department of Physiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India studied the effects of meditation on stress-induced changes in cognitive

Background

The objective of this study was to study the effects of meditation on stress-induced changes in cognitive functions.

Methodology

The study was conducted on 32 healthy adult male student volunteers who had never practised meditation before the study. The study consisted of practicing 20 minutes of guided meditation and administration of psychological stress to the subjects. The psychological stress was administered to the subjects by asking them to play a (preselected) stressful computer game. The subjects were asked to meditate either before or after the administration of psychological stress. For the control group measurements, the subjects were asked to wait quietly for an equivalent period of meditation time. The outcome measures were galvanic skin response (GSR), heart rate (HR), electromyography (EMG), sympathetic reactivity (QTc/QS2 ratio), cortisol, and acute psychological stress scores. The central nervous system functions were assessed using Wechsler memory scale and visual-choice reaction time (VCRT). These parameters were measured both at the beginning and at the end of the intervention, using a pre-post experimental test design.

Results

Computer game stress was associated with a significant increase in physiologic (GSR, EMG, HR, QTc/QS2) and psychological (acute stress questionnaire scores) markers of stress. Meditation was associated with relaxation (significant decrease in GSR, EMG, QTc/QS2, and acute stress questionnaire scores). Meditation, if practised before the stressful event, reduced the adverse effects of stress. Memory quotient significantly increased, whereas cortisol level decreased after both stress and meditation. VCRT showed no significant change.

Conclusion

Practice of meditation produced a relaxation response even in the young adult subjects who had never practised meditation before. The practice of meditation reduced the physiologic stress responses without taking away the beneficial effect of stress, namely, improved memory scores.

References

Mohan A, Sharma R and Bijlani RL. Effect of meditation on stress-induced changes in cognitive functions. Source Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine. 17(3):207-12, Mar 2011.

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