Reduced functional connectivity between cortical sources in five meditation traditions detected with lagged coherence using EEG tomography.

Author: Lehmann D, Faber PL, Tei S, Pascual-Marqui RD, Milz P, Kochi K.
The KEY Institute for Brain-Mind Research, University Hospital of Psychiatry, CH-8032 Zurich, Switzerland.
Conference/Journal: Neuroimage.
Date published: 2012 Jan 12
Other: Word Count: 249

Brain functional states are established by functional connectivities between brain regions. In experienced meditators (13 Tibetan Buddhists, 15 QiGong, 14 Sahaja Yoga, 14 Ananda Marga Yoga, 15 Zen), 19-channel EEG was recorded before, during and after that meditation exercise which their respective tradition regards as route to the most desirable meditative state. The head surface EEG data were recomputed (sLORETA) into 19 cortical regional source model time series. All 171 functional connectivities between regions were computed as 'lagged coherence' for the eight EEG frequency bands (delta through gamma). This analysis removes ambiguities of localization, volume conduction-induced inflation of coherence, and reference-dependence. All significant differences (corrected for multiple testing) between meditation compared to no-task rest before and after meditation showed lower coherence during meditation, in all five traditions and eight (inhibitory as well as excitatory) frequency bands. Conventional coherence between the original head surface EEG time series very predominantly also showed reduced coherence during meditation. The topography of the functional connectivities was examined via PCA-based computation of principal connectivities. When going into and out of meditation, significantly different connectivities revealed clearly different topographies in the delta frequency band and minor differences in the beta-2 band. The globally reduced functional interdependence between brain regions in meditation suggests that interaction between the self process functions is minimized, and that constraints on the self process by other processes are minimized, thereby leading to the subjective experience of non-involvement, detachment and letting go, as well as of all-oneness and dissolution of ego borders during meditation.
Copyright © 2011. Published by Elsevier Inc.
PMID: 22266174