Brain, Meditation and Higher States of Consciousness. What is the role of the brain in conscious experience?

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1 Brain, Meditation and Higher States of Consciousness Professor Frederick Travis Director, Brain, Consciousness and Cognition Center Maharishi University of Management Fairfield, Iowa, USA What is the role of the brain in conscious experience? 1

2 Focused Attention Gamma (20-50 Hz) Open Monitoring Theta2 (6-8 Hz) Automatic Self- Transcending Alpha1 (8-10 Hz) Travis and Shear, 2010, Consciousness and Cognition, 19: Pure Consciousness is a Fourth State of Consciousness. Criteria for a higher state consciousness: (1) Subjectively distinct from waking, sleeping and dreaming; (2) Involve greater breadth of sense-ofself; and (3) Be physiologically distinct. 2

3 States of Consciousness Self - Awareness No Yes No Yes Dreaming Sleeping Waking States of Consciousness Self - Awareness No Yes No Yes Dreaming Sleeping Waking Pure Consciousness 3

4 Cosmic Consciousness Pure Consciousness What is the role of the brain in conscious experience? 4

5 Highest Effort Used Lowest Focused Attention Open Monitoring Gamma (20-50 Hz) Theta2 (6-8 Hz) Automatic Self- Transcending Alpha1 (8-10 Hz) Zen Compassion Meditation Qigong Diamond Way Buddhism Vipassana Zazen Mindfulness Saharaj Qigong (meditation) Kriya Yoga Yoga Nidra Transcendental Meditation Two Case studies: Expert Qigong and Mindfulness Travis and Shear, 2010, Consciousness and Cognition, 19: The Mind has a Vertical Structure Distinct thoughts Intuition 5

6 TM is a Process of Transcending TM is a Process of Transcending 6

7 TM is a Process of Transcending TM is a Process of Transcending 7

8 TM is a Process of Transcending Pure Consciousness Content Analysis Absence of time, absence of space and absence of body sense. Travis and Pearson (2000) International Journal of Neuroscience. 100:

9 fmri (Blood Flow) during TM Red = Higher Blood Flow Blue= Lower Blood Flow Ludwig, 2011, Dissertation, Alliant University, California Parallel Thalamocortical Circuits Core cells: Specific sensory input to Layer IV Matrix cells Diffuse arousal to Layer I Content Wakefulness Travis, Neuroquantology,

10 Front Center Back Travis et al, 2009 Challenging Computer Task: 5 sec 0 sec Alpha Beta Gamma 10

11 TM practice: 30 sec 35 sec Alpha Beta Gamma Let s See EEG Patterns during TM in Real Time Notice how quickly brain patterns change during TM practice. Notice how the coherence is uniformly higher during TM practice. 11

12 Four Months TM Practice Front Center Back TM Eyes Open Travis, 1991 Eight Years TM Practice Front Center Back TM Eyes Open Travis,

13 Inner Awareness during Sleep there s a continuum there. It's not like I go away and come back. It's a subtle thing. It's not like I'm awake waiting for the body to wake-up or whatever It's me there. I don't feel like I'm lost in the experience. That's what I mean by a continuum you know its like the fizzing on top of a soda when you've poured it. It's there and becomes active so there's something to identify with. When I'm sleeping, it's like the fizzing goes down. Inner Self-Awareness during Sleep: Higher alpha1 activity with delta Typical sleep with no self-awareness Sleep with self-awareness Mason, et al, (1997) Sleep, 20:

14 Alpha1 power during Stg 3 and 4 in the first three sleep cycles Mason et al, (1997) Sleep, 20: Brain Integration during Tasks Alpha Amplitude 17: Non TM 17: TM but no Higher States 17: TM and Higher States Brain Preparatory Response Simple Choice Broad Band Coherence Travis et al (2002) Biological Psychology, 6: Non-TM Short Term TM Higher States 14

15 Summed Z-scores of EEG Parameters Brain Integration Scale Frontal Coherence, Alpha Relative Power, and Brain Preparatory Response Non-TM Short-term TM Higher States Travis et al (2002) Biological Psychology, 6: Correlation of the Brain Integration Report Card with: * p <.05, ** p <.01 Mean Std R (28) Moral Reasoning ** Emotional Stability ** Openness to exp * State Anxiety * Trait Anxiety * Travis et al (2004) Consciousness and Cognition, 13/2,

16 American University College Students (random assignment to groups) Brain Brain Integration during Scale (3 tasks months (3-mon TM) TM) 3.5 Brain Integration p < Pretest Post Test TM Delayed Start Travis et al, International Journal of Neuroscience, 2009 (Nidich et al, in press, American Journal of Hypertension ) 16

17 Summed Z-scores of EEG Parameters Brain Integration Scale Frontal Coherence, Alpha Relative Power, and Brain Preparatory Response Control Athletes World Class Athletes Control Managers Top-Level Managers Long-term TM Harung et al, (2011) Scandanavian Journal of Sport and Science, 1, Harung and Travis, (2012) Cognitive Processing, 13: Conclusion Frontal executive circuits seem key for the experience of higher states. Higher states appear to be the natural extension of development that has been going on since birth. 17

18 Thank you. Any Questions? drfredtravis.com 18

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