Does the college experience damage students’ brains?
Alarik Arenander says it does.
Arenander, a professor at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, said college students often suffer from stress, anxiety and sleep deprivation, as well as taking part in self-destructive activities like binge drinking — “and we call that normal.”
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“Normal may be what is usual or average today, but it shouldn’t be acceptable,” Arenander argued.
Arenander will be one of the panelists at the M.U.M.’s National Brain Conference, which the university will host Friday. The conference will be broadcast over the Internet from 10 a.m. to noon on the Web site http://brainconference.mum.edu.
M.U.M. advocates the use of Transcendental Meditation to reduce stress and improve brain functioning. Arenander described the technique, which was brought to the United States by Indian spiritual guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, as “a very viable and research-based approach to education.”
The university recently began offering its students an optional “brain integration report card,” which is intended to supplement traditional grades by charting students’ development using a combination of EEG readings and standard psychological tests.
“Integrated brain functioning is the basis for clear thinking and better decision-making,” said Fred Travis, director of the university’s Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition.
M.U.M. was founded in 1973 in Santa Barbara, Calif., and moved to Fairfield the following year. It has about 325 graduate and undergraduate students on campus.