Transcend…and even ADHD can be alleviated
Research: Transcending is an extremely effective treatment of ADHD
ADHD can be caused by a number of factors. Often ADHD is a consequence of stress disrupting the normal functioning of the prefrontal cortex of the brain. However, sometimes there are deeper, more structural problems: ADHD can be linked to insufficient blood flow to the brain and an abnormally low EEG coherence.
Irrespective of what may be causing the problem, transcending can help, because it essentially restores the brain to its natural setting which effectively impacts all three factors at the same time; the prefrontal cortex, blood flow, and EEG coherence. More detail below.
Research shows: 3-6 months of TM leads to significant reduction in ADHD symptoms.
In 2011, a study confirmed the effect of TM on ADHD in children. Despite the fact that it was only a small-scale pilot study, the results were so impressive that they were announced on several American television channels, as for example in this news item:
In this study, children in the age group 11 to 14 years old with serious ADHD symptoms were randomly divided into a group that was immediately taught TM and a control group that had to wait 3 months before being was taught the technique. The TM group showed a significant reduction in ADHD symptoms after only 3 months of TM practice, while no improvement was noticeable in the control group. After the control group was taught TM, a similar improvement occurred in that group after 3 months, while the first group continued to improve.
This is clearly visible in this graphic that shows the evolution of Theta/Beta ratio of brainwaves in children over a 6 month period. This ratio is unusually high in ADHD patients but is close to normal after 6 months of TM practice. The students were able to focus better, were better able to control their impulses and improved their organisational skills as well as their problem-solving skills. Their school results improved, and they showed less stress, anxiety and fewer anger outbursts.
It is easy for children with ADHD to learn and practice TM, and they enjoy doing it.
A technique can only be effective if the children can actually make use of it. In the case of TM, this turned out to be no problem, as the children enjoyed practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique. In response to the question “how much do you enjoy your TM practice” the average answer score was 5.3 on a scale of 0 (not at all) to 7 (a lot).
The study was published in Mind & Brain, The Journal of Psychiatry (2011, Vol 2, No 1). Click here to read the full publication online (English, go to p78).
Alleviating ADHD: What exactly does Transcending do?
Stress and the prefrontal cortex
Under stress the prefrontal cortex is disabled, reducing control over impulsiveness
The prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain right above the eyes, is responsible for our higher order thought functionality, such as impulse control, long-term planning, moral thought, and deciding whether something is right or wrong. This part of the brain is sometimes also referred to as the CEO or the Managing Director of the brain, as most decisions are made there. The prefrontal cortex is that part of the brain that sets human beings apart from animals.
Normal functioning of the brain
In a normal functioning brain, the flow of information will be as follows: Information comes in through the senses, is sent to the prefrontal cortex where it is processed, and then decisions are sent to the motoric part of the brain, which will direct the relevant muscles to respond..
Functioning of the brain under stress.
Under the influence of stress the flow of this information is disrupted. Information no longer passes through the prefrontal cortex, which is now bypassed, with the information being sent directly from the senses to the motoric parts.
The mechanism whereby the prefrontal cortex is disabled when under stress, normally exists to protect us
There is a good reason why the brain is designed this way: for our survival. For example if we were crossing a road road while a car was fast approaching, we wouldn’t want to be in a state where we would first need to think about a response. We would need an immediate, impulsive response to jump away. There would be no time to think. The mechanism whereby the prefrontal cortex is disabled exists to protect us.
However, this mechanism was not designed for situations of chronic stress. When someone is constantly exposed to stress, the prefrontal cortex gets permanently disabled. The thought process is then automatically reduced to short-term thinking, to impulsiveness. Many ADHD symptoms are linked to the inability to control impulsiveness. Essentially these are therefore linked to stress.
Transcending revives the frontal brain
The experience of transcending, however, further activates the prefrontal cortex
Transcending lets the body enter into a deeper state of rest, allowing the body to remove even the deepest tensions and allows the frontal brain to become more active. This can be measured for example through neural imaging scans, which can measure the blood flow to the brain. The activity in the thalamus (related to bodily functions) drops, which is an indication for relaxation, while activity in the frontal cortex increases. ADHD patients generally have an abnormally low blood flow to certain areas of the brain. TM practice facilitates an increase in blood flow.
In the long term, after several weeks of TM practice, the prefrontal cortex will become more active even outside of mediation, and children often notice that they become less impulsive.
Any time part of the brain is active, electric activity occurs that can be measured through an electroencephalograph (EEG), a device that will display these electric impulses over time, in the form of a wave.
These EEG wave shapes from the corresponding parts of the brain are then sent to a computer that (in real time) measures to what extent the different wave shapes overlap (i.e. show coherence). If the brain waves are fully coherent, this implies that the different parts of the brain are connected to each other. They function as one whole.
ADHD = abnormally low EEG coherence, Transcending = increased EEG coherence
In ADHD patients, the EEG coherence is abnormally low, which is another way to objectively measure that the brain is unable to function normally. EEG coherence is found to increase from TM practice. Transcending in essence is an experience of unity, and this allows the brain to start functioning normally (as one whole) again. This can be measured in real time, as is shown in the video below:
These changes in brainwaves remain unique to the experience of transcending as achieved through the TM technique. With other meditation and relaxation techniques this degree of high coherence has not been documended.
The more someone experiences high EEG coherence, the more the brain gets used to this state, as a result of which EEG coherence increases outside of TM practice also, as is demonstrated in the research below.Ref.Travis, F. and Arenander, A. International Journal of Neuroscience, 2006
This graph shows the evolution of average EEG values in 50 students over the course of 12 months. It demonstrates that there is no difference in EEG coherence during TM practice in the case of someone who has been practicing TM for 2 months and another person who has been practicing for 12 months. Transcending isn’t something that one gets better at the longer it is practiced. As it is a fully natural process, one will start transcending from the first session. However, we do note differences during activity, outside of TM practice: EEG coherence becomes more and more stabilised.
The same was observed in the ADHD study. The below graph shows lines between the different areas of the brain that are coherent with each other. The coherence was measured at the start of the study and again at the end. The two were combined. The resulting lines therefore indicate an increased coherence (outside of TM practice) each time after a period of 3 months.
The result is clear, in the control group there was no difference after three months, while the TM group showed a clear increase in EEG coherence. Once the control group learned TM after 3 months, they too showed a strong increase in EEG coherence after 6 months.Ref. Mind & Brain, The Journal of Psychiatry (2011, Vol 2, No 1)
Even though TM is proving to be both an enjoyable and an effective treatment, we nevertheless encourage you not to stop your normal treatment. Many ADHD patients soon notice that they will spontaneously require less medication, but it is very important for this to happen in small steps and in consultation with one’s doctor.
For more specific questions about the effect of TM on ADHD, go to: Doctors answer questions about TM and ADHD
How can a simple technique do so much?
600 studies confirm the effect of TM with:
- Less stress
- How TM works
- Emotional stability
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Better Health
- General Health
- Becoming Younger