Great News!: Transcendental Meditation, ADHD and the Brain!

A quick Spacesuit Yoga Twitter!:  Transcendental Meditation shown to reduce symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children

A small, though important study was just published in the peer-review journal  Current Issues in Education > Volume 10, 2008 > Number 2, showing the positive correlation between T.M. practice, stress reduction and improvement in use of executive function in school children ages 11-14. Scientists limited the study to students with pre-existing diagnoses of ADHD made by a physician or psychologist.

The study was conducted as a team effort between members of a private research firm, researchers from the Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management and faculty at University of Arizona.

The link to the study:  http://cie.ed.asu.edu/volume10/number 2/

This is terrific news for the meditation, ADHD, educational and neuroscientific communities at large!

[For those who know little about T.M. as a meditative practice, it is considered by T.M. researchers to be a ‘technique of “effortless transcending”’ (Travis, et al., 2002).  Though I don’t debate the contributions T.M. makes to whole-brain health and happiness, I find statements like this negate the obvious neuroscience and cognitive question:  “Where does one place one’s attention?”  To that point, authors of the study distinguish the neuro-cognitive basis of T.M. as distinct from “concentration” practices like Zen breath meditation and from “contemplative” practices like Vipassana or Insight meditation. Clearly more research with rigorous interest in the rhetoric of description is needed to identify the neural network correlates to the many paths of meditation practice.]

I will continue to report on key studies of meditation research that impact how we in the global community, think about the relations of health to learning, memory, imagination and decision-making in children and adults!!

Synaptically yours!

Dr. G.

The George Greenstein Institute, dedicated to a sustainable  future by coaching bodies, brains and minds!

 

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6 Responses to “Great News!: Transcendental Meditation, ADHD and the Brain!”

  1. BlissCat Says:

    This is a great article. I can vouch this is true from personal experience. My own stepdaughter suffered from ADHD. We had her instructed in Transcendental Meditation and gradually we saw amazing changes. Her attention span improved, as did her ability to focus and her awareness of her surroundings. Even her relationship with her peers got better and better. Six years later (se is now 9) her condition is barely noticeable. Without TM we might have had to resort to medication. Here is a source of information, by the way: Transcendental Meditation & Learning Disorders

    • spacesuityoga Says:

      Bliss Cat, Thanks for your comment! Spacesuit Yoga will continue to report on the research that correlates meditation with improvements in ADHD. And Lynch’s foundation is doing great work to raise awareness on how to make meditation (or some form of contemplative practice) central to what it means to “educate” our children, our brains, our minds!

      Synaptically yours,

      Dr. G.

  2. ruth Says:

    Please note that the study is a pilot study of only 10 participants with no control group. No conclusions can be drawn from a pilot study, it is only done to see if future research makes sense. Without a control you cannot determine if the improvement was due to TM or some other reason, such as simply paying attention to the kids.

    • spacesuityoga Says:

      Ruth, thanks for your comment and note of clarification. I provided the link to the journal article hoping people will read and learn the details.

      A note to readers: While “hard” scientific data studies require control groups, pilot studies map the territory of investigation and can often offer rich ethnographic detail — giving great clues to new questions and future discoveries!

      For the ADHD and meditation communities, the published news in a peer review journal is valuable as it offers yet another piece of understanding how immersive attention practices offer real hope and solutions for people who suffer, even with the help of “pharma.”

      For those in the ADHD community, may I suggest you begin reading the works of Dr. John Ratey, a Harvard psychiatrist who specializes in the area of ADHD and who recognizes the important connection between the neural basis of attention, movement and consciousness. T.M. practice isolates two of the three aspects of neura-networking. Movement meditation like Tai Chi or Kundalini Yoga addresses all three.

      Again, grateful for comments to come in as we all learn from each other.

      Synaptically yours,

      Dr. G.

  3. skepticpedi Says:

    “For the ADHD and meditation communities, the published news in a peer review journal is valuable as it offers yet another piece of understanding how immersive attention practices offer real hope and solutions for people who suffer, even with the help of “pharma.””

    Use of scare quotes around pharma is a red flag for potential biases in your thinking. That being said, I will give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume that you don’t know anything about the journal in question. It is not peer-reviewed in the way that you seem to think it is. It is an educational journal edited by graduate students in education. They do not have any scientific or medical experience in ADHD or anything else for that matter. This publication offers no new understanding other than how easy it is to design a study that will be postive regardless of whether or not a treatment has any real effect. It would not have been accepted, and was likely rejected, by any reputable medical or scientific journal. This episode is a classic example of attempting to circumvent the scientific process in order to avoid having one’s work scrutinized by people who would see it for what it is.

    http://spacecityskeptics.wordpress.com/2009/01/07/how-to-design-a-positive-study-meditation-for-childhood-adhd/

    • spacesuityoga Says:

      Thanks Skeptic Reader, I am honored to have the a member of the scientific community way in.

      I do realize that the Current Issues in Education is a journal organized and edited by doctoral students (with faculty supervision) in various areas on ed-psych, cognitive science, tech and mathematics. Would you not agree that while not yet “official” academic members of the scientific community, doctoral candidates represent the future of research and teaching? That this university group was open enough to consider what looks like an ethnographic study from a less conventional academic institution showed intellectual moxie if not vision in opening the door to considering the role of contemplative education — a topic finding its way to the surface of academic discussion and rigorous scientific and medical research. That said, does ethnography offer nothing in the way of educational research? Yes, from what we can gather from the editorial index, the peer review board are not a group of ADHD specialists in neuroscience, but they are budding educational researchers and cognitive scientists who seem to be interested in studies dealing with ed. psych.

      As for the pharma comment — that was intended a) to reference common knowledge that pharma, be it Western med or Chinese herbs, are not the end all be all of cure or restoration and b) refer directly to the article content itself.

      Again, thanks for your comment as it helps all readers take time critically about issues raised on this site and in the culture at large.

      Synaptically yours,

      Dr. Greenstein
      The George Greenstein Institute for the Advancement of Somatic Arts and Science

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