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Abstract for the 2007 Conference of the American Psychological Association

Brain Integration Scale: Corroborating Language-based
Instruments of Post-conventional Development

Loevinger’s Sentence Completion Test (SCT) is a language-based instrument, which delineates pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional stages of self-development. Post-conventional experiences are beyond language—beyond time, space and causation—and so escape detection through a language-based instrument. However, post-conventional experiences are associated with patterns of brain functioning. Thus, an instrument generated from brainwave patterns may help delineate post-conventional experiences.

We have generated a Brain Integration Scale from EEG recorded during challenging computer tasks in 17 long-term Transcendental Meditation practitioners, who reported the permanent integration of “consciousness-itself,” or Transcendental Consciousness, with waking, sleeping and dreaming. This is the first of three stabilized states of enlightenment detailed in the Vedic tradition. Their brainwaves were compared to 17 age-matched meditating and 17 non-meditating subjects. Higher scores on the Brain Integration Scale were associated with 1) the state of enlightenment, 2) higher frontal 6-45 Hz EEG coherence, 3) higher alpha and lower gamma activity, 4) better match between brain preparation and task demands, 5) positive correlation (.4 to .7) with emotional stability, inner orientation, moral reasoning, and openness to experience—a trait positively correlated with ego stage (McCrae and Cost, 1980), and 6) negative correlation with anxiety (.45).

Nineteen randomly assigned American University, who practiced the TM technique for three months significantly increased on the Brain Integration Scale, while Brain Integration Scale scores for the delayed start group decreased. Thirty-three Norwegian athletes, who had won gold medals in the Olympics or World games, had significantly higher Brain Integration Scale scores than 33 comparison athletes, who did not finish in the top ten. We are scoring the SCT protocols from the 17 enlightened subjects and the 66 athletes. These data will be reported at the symposium as a basis for exploring the synergy of these two measures for delineating post-conventional stages.

Fred Travis, Director, Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition, Maharishi University of Management

Abstract for the 2005 Conference of the
American Psychological Association

Subjective and Objective Markers of Advanced Development
in Subjects Practicing Transcendental Meditation

A 10-year longitudinal study of 34 subjects practicing the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique showed significant increases in ego development (Loevinger's SCT) in contrast to three matched control samples (Chandler et al., 2005). At posttest, 38% of the TM subjects scored at the highest Autonomous and Integrated stages, compared to 1% of the controls. The TM subjects’ posttest mode (Autonomous) was three levels above the mode for controls and two above the highest of 30 samples surveyed.

The hypothesized mechanism for increases in self-development through TM practice is the experience of one’s universal nature during the practice. Subjective and objective measures distinguish this experience, called Transcendental Consciousness, from simple eyes-closed rest. Subjectively Transcendental Consciousness is characterized by “Silence,” “Unboundedness” and “Loss of boundaries of time, space and body sense.” (Travis et al., 2000) The very framework that gives meaning to waking experience appears to be absent. Objectively Transcendental Consciousness is characterized by high frontal EEG coherence, spontaneous breath quiescence, and bursts in autonomic nervous system activity followed by quiescence (Travis et al., 1997).

Recent research has further investigated subjects reporting the permanent integration of Transcendental Consciousness with waking, dreaming and sleeping. This is the state of Nirvana in the Buddhist tradition, or Cosmic Consciousness in the Vedic tradition. Subjective measures of Cosmic Consciousness have been summarized in an Object Referral/Self Referral Continuum of self-awareness (Travis et al., 2004). These subjects’ sense-of-self has de-embedded from thinking and acting. Objective measures include higher frontal EEG coherence, higher alpha EEG and lower gamma EEG, and preparatory responses that better match task demands. These variables have been summarized in a Brain Integration Scale (Travis et al., 2002).

This talk will present these phenomenological and cortical patterns and relate them to the model of ego development developed by Loevinger and extended by Cook-Greuter..
References:

Chandler, H., C. Alexander and D. Heaton (2005). Transcendental Meditation and Post-Conventional Self-Development: A 10-Year Longitudinal Study. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 17(1): 93-122.

Travis, F., A. Arenander and D. DuBois (2004). Psychological and Physiological Characteristics of a Proposed Object-Referral/Self-Referral Continuum of Self-Awareness. Conscious Cogn 13(2): 401-20.

Travis, F. and C. Pearson (2000). Pure Consciousness: Distinct Phenomenological and Physiological Correlates of "Consciousness Itself". The International journal of neuroscience. 100(1-4).

Travis, F. and R. K. Wallace (1997). Autonomic Patterns During Respiratory Suspensions: Possible Markers of Transcendental Consciousness. Psychophysiology. 34(1): 39-46.

Travis, F. T., J. Tecce, A. Arenander and R. K. Wallace (2002). Patterns of Eeg Coherence, Power, and Contingent Negative Variation Characterize the Integration of Transcendental and Waking States. Biological psychology. 61: 293-319.

Fred Travis, Director, Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition, Maharishi University of Management

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