Neurophysiological Correlates to Psychological Trait Variables in Experienced Meditative Practitioners

  • Thilo Hinterberger
  • Niko Kohls
  • Tsutomu Kamei
  • Amanda Feilding
  • Harald Walach
Part of the Studies in Neuroscience, Consciousness and Spirituality book series (SNCS, volume 1)


“Meditation” has frequently been used as an umbrella term for diverse consciousness practices. Although neuropsychological state and trait measures in persons experienced in meditation practice have been reported during the last years, there is no consensus about their phenomenological meaning and correlation with experiences. In this study we aimed to investigate the neuronal, psychological and phenomenological commonalities of various meditation styles by correlating 64 channel of EEG (electroencephalogram) data with questionnaire measures tapping into mindfulness (FMI) and exceptional and spiritual experiences (EEQ). Significant correlations between EEG measures and the mindfulness score, amount of meditation experience, and exceptional experiences such as visionary dreams were found. The heuristic approach of classifying spiritual and meditative techniques on three different dimensions – neuronal, phenomenological and psychological trait – seems to be a promising way for developing a taxonomy of meditative states that is not only based on a superficial, technological surface level description of a particular mind-body practice.


Meditation Practice Spiritual Experience Delta Activity Delta Power Meditation Experience 
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.



We are grateful to all spiritual practitioners who were involved in this study and who devoted their time and effort without reimbursement. This work has been supported by the BIAL Foundation (Portugal), the Samueli Institute (Alexandria, USA), the Beckley Foundation, UK (, and through the Beckley the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS, CA, USA). The IONS primary program areas are consciousness and healing, extended human capacities, and emerging worldviews (phone: 707.775.3500, Further support was given by the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command under Award No. W81XWH-06-1-0279 P00002. The views, opinions and/or findings contained in this report are those of the authors and should not be construed as an official DoD position, policy or decision unless so designated by other documentation. In the conduct of research where humans are the subjects, the investigators adhered to the policies regarding the protection of human subjects as prescribed by the United States Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 45, Volume 1, Part 46; Title 32, Chap. 1, Part 219; and Title 21, Chap. 1, Part 50 (Protection of Human Subjects).


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Copyright information

© Springer Netherlands 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thilo Hinterberger
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Niko Kohls
    • 3
    • 4
  • Tsutomu Kamei
    • 5
  • Amanda Feilding
    • 6
  • Harald Walach
    • 7
  1. 1.Section of Applied Consciousness Sciences, Department of Psychosomatic MedicineUniversity Hospital RegensburgRegensburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Health SciencesUniversity Medical Center FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  3. 3.Samueli Institute of Information BiologyAlexandriaUSA
  4. 4.GRP – Generation Research Program, Human Science CenterLudwig Maximilian University of MunichMunichGermany
  5. 5.Shimane Institute of Health ScienceIzumoJapan
  6. 6.Beckley FoundationOxfordUK
  7. 7.Institute for Transcultural Health StudiesEuropean University ViadrinaFrankfurt (Oder)Germany

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