This research is investigating the possibility of using EEG to monitor and map the higher states of consciousness brought about by meditation, and to use the information to develop a state of consciousness monitoring device (SMD). The device will also work as a neurofeedback tool to promote peoples’ ability to move into an altered state.
The project is run in association with Dr. Thilo Hinterberger at Freiburg University, Germany.
In this study EEG was used to record the brain waves of 33 experienced meditators. The participants included Zen-Buddhists, practitioners of Qi-Gong, various western contemplative methods, and mediums.
The results identified many EEG parameters that reveal state transitions of the brain during meditation. These include significant increases in Gamma band activity (30-70 Hz) in frontal brain regions, Beta and Gamma activity shifting to the right hemisphere in central and temporal regions and decreases in Delta (1-3.5 Hz) and Theta (4-7.5 Hz) activity in central, parietal, and occipital areas of the brain.
This project then developed a visualization technique for the SMD that allows the meditation-induced changes in EEG to be observed as they occur, and so compared to the in-the-moment descriptions of consciousness given by the participants. It is hoped that with further work the SMD may enable experienced meditators to intensify their experiences though real-time neural feedback, or allow novice meditators to develop their skills at a more rapid pace.
This figure shows a an example of the output of the State Monitoring Device showing a distinct change in EEG wave form that occurred when the meditator entered what they described as the state of “pure being”.