Transcendental Meditation Improves ADHD Symptoms, Academic Skills
Students with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) who practiced the Transcendental Meditation® (TM) technique experienced an improvement in ADHD symptoms, academic skills, and brain functioning, according to a new study published in Mind & Brain, The Journal of Psychiatry. The practice of TM does not require concentration, something that is difficult for people who have ADHD.
ADHD affects about 8% of children ages 4-17
The three main characteristics of ADHD, a developmental condition that affects about 8 percent of school age children in the United States, are impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention. For a diagnosis of ADHD, some symptoms that cause impairment must be apparent before a child is seven years old, and they must be present in more than one situation, such as at home, at school, and in social settings.
At an independent school for children with language-based learning problems, investigators explored the impact of Transcendental Meditation on 18 students ages 11 to 14 years who have ADHD. The six-month study was led by neuroscientist Fred Travis, PhD, director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition.
Previous research has shown that the ratio of theta brain waves to beta brain waves can accurately identify students with ADHD. Brain waves can be measured using an EEG. According to Dr. Travis, people without ADHD demonstrate theta activity during tasks which “suggests that the brain is blocking out irrelevant information so the person can focus on the task.” People with ADHD have higher theta activity, which suggests their brain is blocking out relevant information.
Before they were assigned to a TM practice group or to a delayed-start comparison group, the 18 students underwent an EEG and took a verbal fluency test. They were retested at 3 and 6 months after start of the study. Students in the delayed start group began TM after their 3-month test.
Studies have shown that TM can reduce stress and increase brain function. Children with ADHD are less able to deal with stress and also have slower brain development. Stress also compromises the ability to learn, resulting in problems with attention, organizational skills, and memory.