We are presently undertaking a series of psychophysical pilot studies, recording extensive data from a small number of individuals. Using breath as the object of meditation, we are searching for EEG signals (possibly in the gamma-frequency band) that correlate with attentional quality. In response to a cue, subjects indicate by button press their subjective level of laxity or excitation. Some of the initial results suggest that enhanced neural activity in the gamma range may be present prior to and some time after distraction. We will continue to collect data from additional meditators to see if similar activity can be observed. In particular, we will recruit participants having various degrees of experience with Rinzai Zen meditative practices from the Shinjinkai meditation community in Chicago. We will also connect this approach to related research using a battery of behavioral assessments of different aspects of attention, for which extensive normative data have been collected.

Adam Safron

University of Pennsylvania