Memory & Cognition

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 207–215 | Cite as

Meditation and flexibility of visual perception and verbal problem solving

  • Michael C. Dillbeck


This study investigates the effects of the regular practice of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique on habitual patterns of visual perception and verbal problem solving. The study’s predictions were expressed in the context of Norman’s model, which suggests that meditation reduces conceptually driven processes. It was specifically hypothesized that the TM technique involves a reduction of habitual patterns of perceptual and conceptual activation, resulting in (1) more effective application of schemata to new information and (2) less distracting mental activity during performance. This was predicted to result in improved task performance on task conditions in which either (1) habitual patterns of performance hinder or do not aid performance or (2) habitual patterns aid performance. Subjects began the TM technique, relaxed, or added nothing to their daily schedule for 2-week periods. In addition to generalized effects of the interventions, the immediate effects of the TM technique, relaxation, and reading were compared on a letter perception task. The general hypothesis was supported for tasks of tachistoscopic identification of card and letter-sequence stimuli, but not for the verbal problem solving task of anagram solution.


Letter Identification Letter Sequence Bigram Frequency Transcendental Meditation Habitual Pattern 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Banquet, J.-P. Spectral analysis of the EEG during meditation.Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 1973,35, 143–151.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bruner, J. S., &Postman, L. J. On the perception of incongruity: A paradigm.Journal of Personality, 1949,18, 206–223.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bruner, J. S., &Potter, M. C. Interference in visual recognition.Science, 1964,14, 424–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chastain, G., &Burnham, C. A. The first glimpse determines the perception of an ambiguous figure.Perception & Psychophysics, 1975,17, 221–224.Google Scholar
  5. Coombs, C. H., Dawes, R. M., &Tversky, A.Mathematical psychology. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice-Hall, 1970.Google Scholar
  6. Dominowski, R. L., &Duncan, C. P. Anagram solving as a function of bigram frequency.Journal of Verbal Learning & Verbal Behavior, 1964,3, 321–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hochhaus, L. A table for the calculation of d’ and /gb.Psycho-logical Bulletin, 1972,77, 375–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Huck, S. W., &Mclean, R. A. Using a repeated measures ANOVA to analyze the data from a pretest-posttest design: A potentially confusing task.Psychological Bulletin, 1975,82, 511–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Lindsay, P. H., &Norman, D. A.Human information processing. New York: Academic Press, 1977.Google Scholar
  10. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.On the Bhagavad-Gita. Baltimore, Md: Penguin, 1969.Google Scholar
  11. Mayzner, M. S., &Tresselt, M. E. Anagram solution times: A function of transition probabilities.Journal of Psychology, 1959,47, 117–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Miller, G. A., Bruner, J. S., &Postman, L. J. Familiarity of letter sequences and tachistoscopic identification.Journal of General Psychology, 1954,50, 129–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Murdock, B. B., Jr. Serial order effects in short-term memory.Journal of Experimental Psychology Monograph Supplement, 1968,76, 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Paty, J., Vincent, J. D., &Faure, J. M. A. CNV studies during meditation.Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 1977,43, 540.Google Scholar
  15. Pelletier, K. R. Influence of transcendental meditation upon autokinetic perception.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1974,39, 1031–1034.Google Scholar
  16. Underwood, B. J., &Schultz, P. W.Meaningfulness and verbal learning. Chicago: Livvincott, 1960.Google Scholar
  17. Wandhoefer, A., Kobal, G., &Plattig, K.-H. Latenzverkurzung menschlicher auditorisch evozierter Hirnpotentiale bei Tranzendentaler Meditation.Zeitschrift für EEG-EMG, 1976,7, 99–103.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael C. Dillbeck
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMaharishi International UniversityFairfield

Personalised recommendations