by Janet Hoffman at Transcendental Meditation for Women blog
5 November 2020
According to neurologist Frances Jensen, author of “The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults,” the frontal lobes of the brain aren’t fully connected until we are in our twenties or even thirties.
The frontal lobes are responsible for moral judgement, discrimination, decision making, planning and self-awareness—and can act to reduce impulsive behavior starting in other regions of the brain. Dr. Jensen writes that teens’ undeveloped brain function helps explain why teens act out in seemingly irrational ways.
Neuroscientists researching TM’s effects on brain function found that, during the TM practice, the brain produces high-power alpha waves, corresponding to a state of relaxed, blissful, inner wakefulness. This orderly functioning often spreads throughout the brain and enlivens the pre-frontal cortex—the seat of the brain’s executive judgment.
For example, a study published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology in 2009 showed that university students who learned TM showed increased broadband frontal EEG coherence.
In a previous article on our blog entitled Mysteries of the Teen Mind, we quoted neurologist Dr. Gary Kaplan. His quote is worth repeating here:
How do we keep our teens from inadvertently hurting themselves, while each has a more or less under-developed prefrontal cortex, lacking strong connections to the rest of the ‘thinking’ brain? There are no medications that are truly effective in curbing impulsivity and risk-taking. Behavioral strategies and education… are inadequate, though we often recommend them. What is needed is a way to bring the prefrontal cortex ‘online’ with the rest of the cerebral cortex….
I recommend this (TM) technique in particular because it is simple. Adolescents learn it easily. Moreover, it is the only technique I know of that increases coherent prefrontal activity (as measured by EEG).
Well-controlled studies demonstrate positive effects on attention, decreasing anxiety and substance abuse after only weeks of practice.
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