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Vegors, Susan
Transcendental Meditation and individual differences in mental capacity.

Order No.9534649

The practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique is predicted to expand the conscious capacity of the mind (Maharishi, 1963). This dissertation tested the hypothesis that one of two measures of mental capacity in 20th century psychology: mental energy or speed of processing, would be sensitive to the expansion of the conscious capacity of the mind through the TM practice. It also assessed the effect of strategy on performance. Two experiments were conducted using a task with three levels of difficulty: (1) standard P300 oddball task, (2) a tracking task, and (3) distracters, that tested both mental energy and the speed of processing models.

The first experiment compared nonequivalent control and meditating subjects. The most significant finding was a different pattern of loading for the two groups. With increasing task difficulty, the control group exhibited increasing P3 amplitude and latency, while the meditating subjects exhibited decreasing amplitude and smaller latency increases. The second experiment, which used short term and long term meditators found no significant differences between the groups. The data from the two experiments were combined in a post hoc analysis, to address the age confound in the first experiment and to examine the robustness of the TM effect. The two meditating groups loaded similarly on P3 amplitude and latency and together were significantly different from the control subjects.

The different pattern of loading for the TM group could not be accounted for by the mental capacity models in 20th century psychology. Current psychology conceptualizes expanded mental capacity as the number of items an individual can operate on in their mind, or the speed with which they can move betweeen items. In contrast, Maharishi's Vedic Psychology conceptualizes the expansion of conscious capacity as more powerful thoughts thar are more fully integrated with the depth of the mind. These results suggest that it is an interaction between the internal operations of the mind, discussed in strategy theory, and the external stimulus that determine an individual's performance. Source: DAI, 56, no. 06B, (1995): 3497

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