Intensive training induces longitudinal changes in meditation state-related EEG oscillatory activity

Manish Saggar, Brandon G. King, Anthony P. Zanesco, Katherine A. MacLean, Stephen R. Aichele, Tonya L. Jacobs, David A. Bridwell, Phillip R. Shaver, Erika L. Rosenberg, Baljinder K. Sahdra, Emilio Ferrer, Akaysha C. Tang, George R. Mangun, B. Alan Wallace, Risto Miikkulainen, Clifford D. Saron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


The capacity to focus one's attention for an extended period of time can be increased through training in contemplative practices. However the cognitive processes engaged during meditation that support trait changes in cognition are not well characterized. We conducted a longitudinal wait-list controlled study of intensive meditation training. Retreat participants practiced focused attention (FA) meditation techniques for three months during an initial retreat. Wait-list participants later undertook formally identical training during a second retreat. Dense-array scalp-recorded electroencephalogram (EEG) data were collected during 6 min of mindfulness of breathing meditation at three assessment points during each retreat. Second-order blind source separation along with a novel semi-automatic artifact removal tool (SMART) was used for data preprocessing. We observed replicable reductions in meditative state-related beta-band power bilaterally over anteriocentral and posterior scalp regions. In addition individual alpha frequency (IAF) decreased across both retreats and in direct relation to the amount of meditative practice. These findings provide evidence for replicable longitudinal changes in brain oscillatory activity during meditation and increase our understanding of the cortical processes engaged during meditation that may support long-term improvements in cognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number256
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Issue numberSEPTEMBER
StatePublished - Sep 10 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention
  • Beta
  • EEG
  • Individual alpha frequency
  • Meditation
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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