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New research suggests that the brain exhibits a pattern of activity as it does throughout the experience. The findings, published in the journal Neuroscience, indicate that meditation is associated with greater brain entropy.

“We are witnessing a significant psychedelic renaissance, both in society and science. Psychedelics are being reconsidered as relatively safe tools to investigate the relationship between brain, mind and consciousness, in addition to promising clinical options to treat certain psychiatric disorders, such as depression,” explained study author Enzo Tagliazucchi a professor in the University of Buenos Aires and manager of the Computational Cognitive Neuroscience Lab.

“I became interested in certain overlaps between the phenomenology (i.e.’what it feels like’) of a few meditation traditions as well as the psychedelic state. As an example, both countries have been consistently linked to a collapse of self-boundaries and a merging of the subjective and objective sides of truth.”

“My colleague Robin Carhart-Harris, one of the main characters of the psychedelic renaissance, has put forward a concept of the psychedelic state for a brain state of greater entropy, and I became interested in finding out whether meditation might also be correlated with increases in the entropy of brain activity.”

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Brain describes predictability and the randomness of brain activity. Tagliazucchi and Carhart-Harris were formerly involved in research which found that individuals had greater brain entropy – meaning a larger range of potential brain conditions – under the influence of the psychedelic drug psilocybin.

Other research has found that higher entropy in many key brain regions is associated with greater intelligence. But heightened brain entropy has also been detected in patients with schizophrenia.

In his study, his colleagues and Tagliazucchi recorded participants’ brainwaves to figure their mind entropy. Oscillation patterns and brain activity have been measured by electroencephalogram at 27 Isha Yoga meditators, 20 Vipassana meditators, 27 Himalaya Yoga meditators, and 30 people with no meditation experience.

The researchers found that Vipassana meditation led in the greatest increases, with the increases occurring in gamma and alpha brainwaves.

“Despite not feeling at all like brain activity, your conscious experience is the result of processes that occur in the mind, and because of this there must be a correspondence between what happens physically in the brain and how that feels on your first-person viewpoint,” Tagliazucchi informed PsyPost.

“The acute effects of psychedelics and a few meditative practices both lead to countries departing from ordinary conscious wakefulness, and are experienced subjectively as richer in information and capable of sustaining an ample repertoire of contents. As a result of this, we hypothesized that meditation could be correlated with greater information content (in other words, greater entropy) of brain activity records, which was verified in the research.”

Future research could use tools — such as magnetoencephalography or magnetic resonance imaging — to analyze brain entropy.

“We will need to replicate this result with different methods to measure brain activity. We should also probe the conscious experience of the subjects during or immediately after their meditation practice to confirm whether time to time changes in entropy correspond to the varying nature of the subjective experience,” Tagliazucchi clarified.

The study,”Meditation Increases the Entropy of Brain Oscillatory Activity“, was written by Rocío Martínez Vivot, Carla Pallavicinia, Federico Zamberlan, Daniel Vigo, and Enzo Tagliazucchi.