Research: TAKAHASHI and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 118

Abstract

TAKAHASHI and colleagues, Department of Neuropsychiatry, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Fukui, Matsuoka-cho, Fukui 910-1193, Japan, have studied changes in the nervous system during meditation.

Background

Meditation is the attainment of a restful yet fully alert physical and mental state. It is practised by many as a self-regulatory approach to emotion wellbeing, but the psycho-physiological properties and personality traits that characterize this meditative state have not been adequately studied.

Methodology

A quantitative analysis of changes in psychophysiological parameters during Zen meditation was carried out in 20 volunteers, and the results were evaluated in association with personality traits assessed by Cloninger's Temperament and Character Inventory.

Results

During meditation, increases were observed in fast theta power and slow alpha power in the electro-encephalogram. Concomitantly, an increase in markers of parasympathetic activity and a decrease of sympathetic activity was detected. The increase in slow alpha power in the frontal area, reflecting enhanced internal focus, was correlated with people's novelty seeking score. The change in fast theta power in the frontal area, taken to represent mindfulness, was associated with people's harm avoidance scores.

Conclusion

These observations suggest that internalized attention and mindfulness, two mental behaviours crucial in meditation, are characterized by different combinations of psychophysiological parameters and character traits.

References

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 55 (2): 199-207, Feb 2005.

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