Immediate and Long-term Effects of Meditation on Acute Stress Reactivity, Cognitive Functions, and Intelligence

ArticleinAlternative therapies in health and medicine 18(6):46-53 · November 2012with146 Reads
Source: PubMed
With the current globalization of the world's economy and demands for enhanced performance, stress is present universally. Life's stressful events and daily stresses cause both deleterious and cumulative effects on the human body. The practice of meditation might offer a way to relieve that stress. The research team intended to study the effects of meditation on stress-induced changes in physiological parameters, cognitive functions, intelligence, and emotional quotients. The research team conducted the study in two phases, with a month between them. Each participant served as his own control, and the first phase served as the control for the second phase. In phase 1, the research team studied the effects of a stressor (10 minutes playing a computer game) on participants' stress levels. In phase 2, the research team examined the effects of meditation on stress levels. The research team conducted the study in a lab setting at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, India. The participants were 34 healthy, male volunteers who were students. To study the effects of long-term meditation on stress levels, intelligence, emotional quotients, and cognitive functions participants meditated daily for 1 month, between phases 1 and 2. To study the immediate effects of meditation on stress levels, participants meditated for 15 minutes after playing a computer game to induce stress. The research team measured galvanic skin response (GSR), heart rate (HR), and salivary cortisol and administered tests for the intelligence and emotional quotients (IQ and EQ), acute and perceived stress (AS and PS), and cognitive functions (ie, the Sternberg memory test [short-term memory] and the Stroop test [cognitive flexibility]). Using a pre-post study design, the team performed this testing (1) prior to the start of the study (baseline); (2) in phase 1, after induced stress; (3) in part 1 of phase 2, after 1 month of daily meditation, and (4) in part 2 of phase 2, after induced stress, both before and after 15 minutes of meditation. Induced stress from the computer game resulted in a significant increase in physiological markers of stress such as GSR and HR. In the short term, meditation was associated with a physiological relaxation response (significant decrease in GSR) and an improvement in scores on the Stroop test of reaction times. In the long-term, meditation brought significant improvements in IQ and scores for cognitive functions, whereas participants' stress levels (GSR and AS) decreased. EQ, salivary cortisol, and HR showed no significant changes. The practice of meditation reduced psychological stress responses and improved cognitive functions, and the effects were pronounced with practice of meditation for a longer duration (1 month).
    • "For example, some psychological effects were observed in workers and cancer patients after they practiced meditation for about eight weeks (Manocha et al., 2011). However, according to Singh et al. (2012), the initial effects of meditation are a decrease of heart rate and sweating caused by decreased sympathetic action, and the psychological effects occur gradually after these initial physiological effects. In addition, Hanley et al. (2014) and Sukhsohale & Phatak (2012) reported that frequency and years of experience of meditation are important factors in the psychological effects. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: Meditation is widely used as a therapeutic measure because it can effectively reduce stress, pain, and improve the mental health, but there are many unclear points about the psychological effects of meditation. Aims: The purpose of this study is to verify the psychological effects of meditation. Method: The short version of Profile of Mood States (POMS-SF) and the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II (AAQ-II) were conducted to compare 97 Myanmar people practicing Vipassana contemplation training with 81 Myanmar nurses who did not have any experience with meditation. Results: The results of our study revealed that meditation mitigated depressive mood, anger, hostility, and fatigue and increased vigor. The enhancement of psychological flexibility occurred only after practicing meditation for more than a year. Conclusions: It can be considered that meditation mitigates anger, hostility and fatigue and increases vigor at a relatively early stage after starting meditation practice, and if meditation practice is continued for more than a year, enhancement of psychological flexibility can also be expected.
    Article · Dec 2015
    • "Lower values in this parameter demonstrate that women of both groups are more receptive in benefits from the practice as compared to men. Earlier finding has shown that STM is associated with physiological relaxation responses with significant decreased galvanic skin response, whereas LTM result was a significant improvement in emotional quotients and cognitive performances [6]. There were positive highly significant lower trends of IAWL values in LTM and STM groups for women as compared to men. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: Anapanasati is one of the meditation techniques discussed in Buddhism. In this meditation, one focuses one's attention on bodily sensations caused by incoming and outgoing breath. This study aims to track the cumulative effect of long-term meditators (LTM) and short-term meditators (STM) using electrophotonic imaging (EPI). Methods: To execute the current study, 432 subjects (264 men and 168 women with mean age of 34.36±$$ \pm $$6.83) were recruited from two meditation centers. LTM had practiced for more than 60 months (mean of months 111±47·20,hoursperday1·71±1·20)$$ \pm 47. 20\, {\rm{hours per day}} \,\,1. 71 \pm 1. 20)$$. STM had practiced meditation from 6 months to less than 60 months (mean of months 37.17±19·44,hoursperday 2·14±4·99)$$ \pm 19. 44\, \,\,{\rm{hours per day}}\,\,{\rm{}}2. 14 \pm 4. 99)$$. A cross-sectional research design was applied and data was collected using EPI. Scatter plot and Fisher discriminant model were also used for statistical presentation of values and interdependency of variables with length of practice between groups. Results: In both LTM and STM, lower values of stress (activation coefficient) were found in woman meditators as compared to men. In both groups, highly significant gender-related differences were observed in integral area parameter, which measures the overall health of an individual. Integral entropy (index of disorderliness of subtle energy in the body) was fluctuating in both groups in both directions for both genders. It was increasing in LTM group and decreasing in STM group with increasing length of practice. Conclusions: Women of LTM and STM demonstrated lesser stress than men. Both groups showed cumulative health-related improvement. Moreover, in gender-related analysis woman meditators exhibited more positive improvement in EPI parameters than men.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015
    • "Females of both group LTM and NM showed positively less disorderliness of the energy (IE) at the physiological level in the system. Earlier studies have shown that relaxation practices like meditation gives positive response to bring harmony in the system [53,64]. Thus in the preview of earlier and present findings it is quite obvious that long-term meditation is helpful to overcome physiological and psychophysiological health hazards in older adults. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Introduction: Anapanasati meditation is one of the techniques, practiced in the initial part of Vipassana in Theravada School of Buddhism. In this method, practitioners focus their entire attention on the incoming and outgoing breath. Study aims to observe effect of Anapanasati meditation and gender related differences on the electrophotonic imaging (EPI) parameters at physiological and psychophysiological level in long-term meditators and naive meditators. Methods: The study consisted of 309 subjects: 199 long-term and 110 naive meditators. Subjects were divided into two groups, long-term meditators (LTM) practicing for 12 months or longer (mean months of practice 79.22. ±. 49.10, daily 1.68. ±. 1.02. h) and naive meditators (NM) practicing for the first time, for seven days daily for 2.30. h. A total 266 subjects were included in the analysis after excluding 43 outliers. Comparisons were between long-term meditators and naive meditators on EPI parameters: Activation Coefficient (AC, stress parameter), Integral Area (IA, general health parameter) and Integral Entropy (IE, disorderliness parameter). Result: Comparison between groups yielded-less disorderliness (IE) at the psychophysiological level in NM group. The gender related results showed highly significant improvements in the health related parameter (IA) at the physiological and psychophysiological level in LTM and NM females compared to males. Conclusion: The findings showed larger health related (IA) advantages in LTM and NM group at the physiological and psychophysiological level. Stress (AC) was LTM and NM females compared to males. Moreover, naive meditators also exhibited positive trends on parameters of EPI after seven days practice of meditation which was similar to LTM.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015
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