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Dixon, Carol A.
Consciousness and cognitive development: a six-month longitudinal study of four-year-olds practicing the children's TM technique

Order No. 9000434

This study was designed to test the prediction, based on a Vedic model of development, that effortless attention on the "thinking level of the mind" through appropriate, nonsemantic internal speech during the practice of the Children's Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique is sufficient to accelerate cognitive development among young children. This six-month longitudinal study is the first to employ the Children's TM technique as a direct treatment intervention.

It was predicted that four-year-old children who regularly practice the Children's TM technique would develop at a significantly faster rate than controls on a set of basic cognitive abilities, recognized to be interindividually stable, including field independence, conceptual maturity, sustained attention, and impulsivity; and on a set of concrete reasoning abilities which indicate a transition to the next developmental period, including conservation and perspective taking. Three empirically derived factors supported the theoretical grouping of the variables, and were identified as psychological differentiation, concrete operational reasoning, and impulsivity. Also, the first unrotated factor was identified as analytical intelligence (Jensen, 1985; Spearman, 1927).

Seventy-three children were tested at pretest, 40 attending preschools which introduce the Children's TM technique during the child's fourth year, and 33 attending progressive control preschools. Covarying for pretest and control variables (age, gender, SES, previous preschool experience, and parents' educational level), a linear trend analysis of the effect of regularity of practice of the Children's TM technique indicated that more regular practice produces significantly more growth on psychological differentiation (p =.03) and analytical intelligence (p =.03), with a trend in the predicted direction on concrete operational reasoning (t(56) = 1.54, p =.06). In addition, planned contrasts also showed that high regularity Children's TM subjects improved significantly more than controls on psychological differentiation (p =.035) and analytical intelligence (p =.04). When data were analyzed separately for subjects of nonmeditating testers (n = 49) in order to remove the effect of a possible meditating tester bias favoring TM subjects, the greater improvements of high regularity TM subjects over controls were even more substantial: psychological differentiation (p =.005), concrete operational reasoning (p =.03), and analytical intelligence (p =.001).

Consistent with a developmental model based on Vedic psychology (Alexander, Davies et al., 1989), these results indicate that acceleration of holistic cognitive development can be facilitated by direct stimulation of inherent cognitive functions through regular practice of the Children's TM technique, without requiring further environmental enrichment. On the basis of this and prior research, the Vedic theory of consciousness is proposed as the foundation of a new paradigm for understanding cognitive development. Source: DAI, 51, no. 03B, (1989): 1518

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