25 February 2009

TM - the new medication for stressed students

New brain study at American University shows promising results

Escalating demands of college life put tremendous stresses on students, who abuse drugs and alcohol to self-medicate and boost academic performance.

According to a recent study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, nearly half of America's 5.4 million full-time college students abuse drugs or drink alcohol on binges at least once a month.

A new study, published in the February 24 issue of the peer-reviewed International Journal of Psychophysiology, suggests meditation as a possible solution.

“Effects of Transcendental Meditation practice on brain functioning and stress reactivity in college students” is the first random assignment study of the effects of meditation practice on brain and physiological functioning in college students.

The study is a collaboration between the American University Department of Psychology in Washington, D.C., and the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa.

The study investigated the effects of 10-weeks of Transcendental Meditation (TM) practice on “Brain Integration Scale” scores (broadband frontal coherence, power ratios, and preparatory brain responses), electrodermal habituation to a stressful stimulus, and sleepiness in 50 students from American University and other Washington, D.C., area universities.

After 10 weeks of regular practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique, students at American University habituated quicker to a stressful stimulus, reported less sleepiness, and measured higher on a Brain Integration scale than on-meditating controls.

The results of the study were announced during an online news conference on Tuesday, February 24. Speakers included the study authors David Haaga, Ph.D., professor of psychology and director of the James J. Gray Psychotherapy Training Clinic at American University; Fred Travis, Ph.D., director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa; and Patricia Spurio, a meditating college student who participated in the brain study.

The news conference also featured a live EEG demonstration that allowed the reporters to observe realtime changes in brain functioning that occur during the Transcendental Meditation technique.

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