Friday, August 30, 2013

Parietal-Occipital Gamma in Meditators

Experienced Mindfulness Meditators Exhibit Higher Parietal-Occipital EEG Gamma Activity during NREM Sleep.

The area of significance (p=0.002) in red/pink:

Correlation with daily practice:

These days I wonder a bit about reported daily practice numbers.  As one progresses, the difference between on the cushion and off the cushion may become less pronounced, so that practice becomes essentially all day.  It would be interesting if there was a "years past stream entry" metric based on the Mahasi criteria of cessation.  Not that many would even know what that is.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Roast of the Pragmatic Dharma Community

The satirical website Tutteji.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

EEG Research Links

Sam Synder's blog came up in my standard search.  Here I link to posts categorized by the term meditation.  Many of these posts have extensive links to research.  Current posts under this topic include:
  • Meditation and PET or SPECT Scans
  • Meditation and MRI or fMRI
  • Meditation and EEG
  • Meditation and Depression
  • Meditation and Anxiety
  • etc.

Your Brain on Meditation - Jud Brewer

A bit more about Judson Brewer's research at Yale, experimenting with real time fMRI feedback on the PCC.

Your Brain on Meditation

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Roland Griffiths at Psychedelic Science 2013 on the Johns Hopkins Psilocybin studies

A video of Roland Griffiths presenting from the Psychedelic Science 2013, "Johns Hopkins Psilocybin Research Project: Studies of Mystical Experience and Meditation in Healthy Volunteers, and Palliative Effects in Cancer Patients".

The video covers pretty much all the ground that has been covered in the Johns Hopkins research since 1999.  It has no specific information on the cancer studies.

I was very interested to see the initial research on meditation and psilocybin, this starts around 32 minutes in.  There was frustratingly little information about results, as the study is not complete.  The design for beginning meditators includes 2-3 sessions of psilocybin over 6-7 months and looks at low (1mg) and high (20-30mg) dose and low and standard meditation support.  Initial results seem to be dose related psilocybin effects as opposed to meditation effects (or some combination), but it was teased that the final 3 months of data may prove more interesting.

Also disappointing that in various parts of the video, the graphics were not updated, apparently because these were ongoing studies.

The plan for studies of long term meditators and psilocybin will include fMRI and there will be some time for sitting meditation in the sessions.

Also covered were the web based survey studies, one based on psilocybin dervied mystical experiences as well as the study on difficult experiences.

From the mystical experience survey, analysis revealed 4 factors
  • unity, noetic quality & sacredness
  • positive mood
  • transcending space & time
  • ineffability
From the difficult experience survey, most people found even these challenging experiences to be mostly meaningful and beneficial, with longer difficult experiences less so.  Least effective means of dealing with such a challenge was doing another drug.

Griffiths felt that psychiatrists with largely negative impressions of psilocybin and the related research were essentially biased by their exposure to bad outcomes as part of their work, they were not seeing the overall results of the drug.  As he emphasized, overall negative effects are rare with good set and setting.

Future research ideas include
  • what factors effect the likelihood of a genuine mystical experience
  • what pharmacological and neuronal pathways are activated
  • possible therapeutic applications (addiction, depression, fear of dying)
Roland described the research as a "wedge" into understanding the human impulses to compasssion, etc.