Goddard, Phil H.
Transcendental Meditation as an intervention in the aging of neurocognitive function: reduced age-related declines of P300 latencies in elderly practitioners.

Order No.9228949

Two cross-sectional experiments were conducted to test the hypothesis that long-term practice of Transcendental Meditationå (TM) would preserve the speed of neurocognitive processes in elderly practitioners, as measured by latency of the P300 component of event-related brain potential and choice reaction time (RT). In Experiment 1, 13 TM subjects, group matched with 13 non-TM subjects on age (mean 65.7 yrs.) and gender (9 females in each group) participated in two oddball tasks (visual and auditory). Group t-tests indicated the TM group had faster P300 latencies than the non-TM group in the visual task, while no differences were found in the auditory task for P300 latency or RT.

In Experiment 2, TM and non-TM subjects from young (6 in each group, mean 20 yrs.) and older (10 in each group, mean 69 yrs.) age ranges, matched on age, gender, IQ, exercise level, and self-health ratings, were compared on a task intended to manipulate stimulus discriminability and stimulus-response compatibility; variables demonstrated to affect stimulus evaluation and response-related stages of processing, respectively.

ANOVAs indicated, (1) P300 latency and RT increased with difficulty in discriminability and stimulus-response compatibility, though RT was substantially more prolonged than P300 latency when an incompatible response was required, (2) P300 latencies were longer in older subjects in all conditions, while RT differences between young and older subjects became significant when task difficulty increased, indicating a centrally mediated age effect with complexity effects confined to response-related stages of processing and, (3) P300 latencies were faster for older TM than non-TM subjects across conditions, while RT was faster in older non-TM than TM subjects. Evidence suggests faster RT in older non-TM compared with TM subjects may have been partially due to motivational/strategy differences.

Overall, the results suggest neurocognitive processing speed may be preserved with age as a result of long-term practice of TM and potential mechanisms are discussed in terms of models of adult cognition, including models from Maharishi's Vedic Psychology. Source: DAI, 53, no. 06B, (1992): 3189


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