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Mason, Lynne Israelson
Electrophysiological correlates of higher states of consciousness during sleep.

Order No.9605338

The ancient Vedic tradition (as brought to light by Maharishi, 1969) has described permanent "higher states of consciousness" (HSC) in which a distinctive state termed transcendental consciousness (i.e. silent inner-awareness without thought)--is capable of being maintained even during sleep. The Transcendental MeditationΠ(TM) program is predicted to promote transcendental consciousness and is correlated with non- descending theta/alpha (7-9 Hz). We predicted that subjects reporting HSC during deep sleep would display the typical EEG pattern of transcendental consciousness along with delta of stage 3 and 4 sleep.

Eleven (9 f, 2 m; mn age = 39.7 yrs.) healthy long-term practitioners of TM (mn = 17.8 yrs.) reporting HSC, and nine (8 f, 1 m; mn age = 27.1 yrs.) short-term meditating controls and 11 healthy non-meditating controls (11f; mn age = 29.45 yrs.) volunteered for ambulatory EEG recording. An EEG montage of C4- A1, C3-A2, EOG, and EMG was employed. Subjects with major psychiatric and physical illness were excluded. Experimentals were selected on the basis of responses to a standard scale and interviews designed to distinguish self-reports of HSC.

No significant difference was found between groups in sleep architecture or time spent in sleep stages, 2, 3, 4 and REM, for the night except experimentals had significantly greater stage 1 than controls. Spectral analysis of experimentals first three sleep cycles had significantly more theta2 (6-8 Hz) and alpha1 (8-10 Hz) relative power for sleep stages 3 and 4 as compared to meditating controls (p =.0005) and nonmeditating controls (p =.000003) with no significant differences between groups in time in delta.

Along with a pattern of theta/alpha superimposed on delta, experimentals exhibited significantly more low EMG during stage 3 and 4 sleep and significantly greater REM density during REM for the first three cycles compared to meditating controls.

These findings of simultaneous theta2-alpha1 with delta, low EMG during deep sleep, and increased REM density is a distinct electrophysiological profile that lends support to the ancient Vedic prediction of the existence of higher states of consciousness. Source: DAI, 56, no. 10B, (1995): 5797

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