Nderstanding The Role Of Gamma Waves In Creativity*
nderstanding the Role of Gamma Waves in Creativity*
Experts Richard Davidson, Daniel Goleman and Antoine Lutz in collaboration with Matthieu Ricard began investing the neurophysiological activity on advanced meditation practitioners over the years. Although their findings from the investigation don’t immediately correlate with creativity, they support meditation as a creative endeavor through other conclusive findings. Altogether, three groups participated in the study; the beginners, the long-term meditators, and the yogis. Particularly the yogis displayed astonishing results; Richard and Antoine described their findings as “…the holy grail: a neural signature showing an enduring transformation”, in reference to the altered trait.
*The Altered Trait*
The altered trait is a characteristic that comes into being when one develops a a constant and enduring practice. Once the practice is consistent and stabilized, beneficial outcomes of that practice are then developed into a trait that shapes “…how we behave in our daily lives, not just during or immediately after we meditate”. Altogether, the one group that showed conclusive altered traits at will were the yogis.
21 Buddhist Yogi’s agreed to being participants at Richie’s lab, many having accumulated meditative hours ranging from 12,000 to 62,0000. A few long-term meditators had more than 20,000 practiced hours, and one or two had roughly 30,000. However, the distinguishing factor for the yogi group was that all of them had three-year deep retreats of isolation that equates to a conservative estimate of 9,500 hours per retreat.
The experiment protocol consisted of four one-minute cycles of three different kinds of meditations. The participants entered these meditative states at will, each one resulting in unique neural signatures. Mingyur Ripoche, a Buddhist yogi with the most lifetime hours of practice (62,000) displayed huge surges in electrical activity recorded by the EEG sensors, during compassion-based meditation; fMRI scanning revealed a jump by 700 to 800% in his circuitry for empathy. Later Mingyur would leave for a four and a half year retreat, and on his return, studies showed that the aging of his brain had slowed down, so at forty-one, his brain resembled the standards of a thirty-three year old.
fMRI’s revealed that all participants had elevated gamma oscillations; not just during the meditative practice, but also during the very first recorded measurements (even before meditation was performed). EEG sensors picked up a potent, powerful form of frequency known as a “high-amplitude” gamma. Gamma waves occur in moments where different parts of the cortical regions of the brain oscillate in congruence, therefore able to fire neural signals in cohesion. These waves are often associated with intuition, innovation, and creativity feature of Gamma waves produced from a creative insight are known to last “no longer than a gift of a second — not the full minute seen in the yogis.”
Gamma allows information processing to be a singular and unified action. For example, when observing an object, the different properties such as texture, shape, color, etc are all inputted and processed by different regions of the brain. When Gamma fires, it unites different regions of the brain allowing for higher states of awareness, insight, information processing and out-of-body experiences — the activity and state of consciousness associated with it is known as EPSILON. A high gamma activity is associated with “peak performance”. It’s been evident in high athletes and top-notch artists and musicians. Some of the benefits of producing gamma frequency are:
* Vivid and rapid memory recall
* Sensory perceptions are heightened. Taste, vision, hearing are more powerful. Leads to a much richer sensory experience.
* Increased focus due to the ability to process sensory information quicker.
* Increased information processing speed.
* Game waves are present during REM sleep and visualization
The researchers were astounded by neural activity of this caliber was surging throughout a standard day for the yogi. Researchers Richie and Antoine described their findings as “…the holy grail: a neural signature showing an enduring transformation”. One can only begin to understand the state of consciousness that the yogi is experience on a day-to-day basis.
The significance of this study is, during the time, no other scientific pursuit studied and produce gamma oscillations in harmony for minutes as opposed to split seconds. The conclusions were that gamma oscillations could be sustained for time, and became more frequent in those that practiced meditations. “Gamma, the very fastest brain wave, occurs during moments when differing brain regions fire in harmony, like moments of insight when different elements of a mental puzzle “click” together.” Understanding insights, creativity, and problem solving on a neuropsychological level could greatly support the practice of meditation on a regular basis.