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Meditation (Vipassana) and the P3a Event-Related Brain Potential
International journal of psychophysiology : official journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: n/a
Pages: 51-60
Source ID: shanti-sources-21811
Abstract: A three-stimulus auditory oddball series was presented to experienced Vipassana meditators during meditation and a control thought period to elicit event-related brain potentials (ERPs) in the two different mental states. The stimuli consisted of a frequent standard tone (500 Hz), an infrequent oddball tone (1000 Hz), and an infrequent distracter (white noise), with all stimuli passively presented through headphones and no task imposed. The strongest meditation compared to control state effects occurred for the distracter stimuli: N1 amplitude from the distracter was reduced frontally during meditation; P2 amplitude from both the distracter and oddball stimuli were somewhat reduced during meditation; P3a amplitude from the distracter was reduced during meditation. The meditation-induced reduction in P3a amplitude was strongest in participants reporting more hours of daily meditation practice and was not evident in participants reporting drowsiness during their experimental meditative session. The findings suggest that meditation state can decrease the amplitude of neurophysiologic processes that subserve attentional engagement elicited by unexpected and distracting stimuli. Consistent with the aim of Vipassana meditation to reduce cognitive and emotional reactivity, the state effect of reduced P3a amplitude to distracting stimuli reflects decreased automated reactivity and evaluative processing of task irrelevant attention-demanding stimuli.