Date of Award

Fall 1994

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering - (M.S.)

Department

Biomedical Engineering Committee

First Advisor

Stanley S. Reisman

Second Advisor

David S. Kristol

Third Advisor

Thomas W. Findley

Abstract

Measurement of physiological parameters associated with the stress response and the relaxation response caused by various forms of meditation can provide valuable information about the reaction of the body to the mind and to the external environment.

This study used two different techniques to evaluate physiological parameters. The first part examined the meditation response by recording the EEG and calculating the coherence between brain waves originating from different parts of the brain. It was found that high levels of coherence in the alpha portion of the EEG frequency band coincided with a restful state associated with the relaxation response. In an effort to measure the autonomic nervous system reaction to relaxation using heart rate variability analysis, it was found necessary to separate sympathetic from parasympathetic influences. This led to measuring the stress reaction in order to find the sympathetic contribution.

The stress reaction was measured by acquiring skin temperature data and heart rate data, and comparing the changes in skin temperature to changes in heart rate variability calculated using time frequency analysis. Skin temperature was found to react gradually to sympathetic changes. A strong mental component was found to influence the stress reaction that was being measured.

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