Meditation is used worldwide by millions of people for relaxation and stress relief. Given sufficient practice, meditators may also experience a variety of altered states of consciousness. These states can lead to a variety of unusual experiences, including physical, emotional and psychic disturbances. This paper highlights the correspondences between brain states associated with these experiences and the symptoms and neurophysiology of epileptic simple partial seizures. Seizures, like meditation practice, can result in both positive and negative experiences. The neurophysiology and chemistry underlying simple partial seizures are characterised by a high degree of excitability and high levels of neuronal synchrony in gamma-band brain activity. Following a survey of the literature that shows that meditation practice is also linked to high power gamma activity, an account of how meditation could cause such activity is provided. This paper discusses the diagnostic challenges for the claim that meditation practices lead to brain states similar to those found in epileptic seizures, and seeks to develop our understanding of the range of pathological and non-pathological states that result from a hyper-excited and hyper-synchronous brain.
Lindsay, S. (2014). Can hyper-synchrony in meditation lead to seizures? Similarities in meditative and epileptic brain states. Medical hypotheses, 83(4), 465-472. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mehy.2014.07.015