Effect of passive concentration as instructional set for training enhancement of EEG alpha

Author: Knox SS
Conference/Journal: Percept Mot Skills
Date published: 1980
Other: Volume ID: 51 , Issue ID: 3 Pt 1767-75 , Word Count: 167

The technique of passive concentration, employed by autogenic training and Transcendental Meditation for achieving relaxation, was tested here as a technique for enhancing EEG alpha. Of 30 subjects displaying between 15% and 74% alpha in their resting EEGs recruited, 10 had to be eliminated. The remaining 20 constituted two groups. One was instructed only to attempt to maintain a tone indicating alpha but given no information about technique (control group). The other was given additional instructions in passive concentration (experimental group). Both were given four 5-min. trials a day for 4 consecutive days. Heart rate and skin conductance were measured to monitor autonomic arousal. The group receiving instructions in passive concentration had significantly less alpha than the control group, which did not increase amount of alpha above baseline. The reduction of alpha in the experimental group was interpreted as resulting from beginning long training periods (20 min. per day), a practice advocated by Transcendental Meditation but discouraged by autogenic training. It was concluded that the relevance of passive concentration for alpha enhancement is doubtful.