The Neuroscience of Meditation: Connecting Research With Doctrine on Attention
AuthorBercel, John Joseph
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractPsychological and neuroscientific research on meditation and mindfulness has developed quickly over the past twenty years. Most research studies have methodological flaws and ambiguous results. The purpose of this review is to discuss these major methodological flaws and to clear up these ambiguities. Since there are many components to meditation and mindfulness this review focuses primarily on the research done on attention and its regulation. To clear up the ambiguities this review analyses the psychological and neuroscientific results of modern meditation research on attention in the context of Buddhist doctrine on meditation. Common results such as increased activity in the PFC or ACC during meditation on attentional tasks or enhanced performance on the Attention Network Task (ANT) in conflict monitoring and alerting suggest that meditation helps attention performance and regulation. The analyses connects these results to the theory of “monkey mind” and concepts of non-attachment in Buddhist doctrine. The correlation between the two areas, scientific research and anthropological study, strongly supports the results of scientific research. Although the methodologies may be flawed and imperfect, the results are promising and the field of research on meditation positively correlates with religious doctrine.
Degree ProgramHonors College