Learning From: Rodrigo Gutierrez

The parallels between biofeedback research findings and millenary traditions are no coincidence. The neurophysiology of meditation along with its advantages have been explored extensively over the last decade, bringing analogies between age-old myths and modern science closer together. For instance, Samsara in the Vedic texts of Hinduism and further developed in Buddhism, dates a thousand years B.C.E. It is the first known written record on the notion of dissatisfaction and impermanence characterizing the alleged repeated cycles of rebirth and re-death caused by the illusion (Maya) of craving and ignorance. The liberation from Samsara, i.e., Moksha or Nirvana, involves the release of the state of suffering achieved by the freedom of one’s own mind through meditation. While different types of meditation branched from the ancient Vedas adjusting to individual states and needs, e.g. Zen, Mindfulness, Mantra, all of them are grounded on attention management and commonly rely on audible rhythmic patterns to achieve it. In general, meditation activates or deactivates neural oscillatory patterns related to cognition and affection as shown in fMRIs of experienced and naïve meditators reporting states of selflessness [1].

 

Figure1. Complete setup. The first system (upper left) estimates HRV from the color changes in face skin produced by blood flow. Calculations are made from pixels RGB values captured from live video camera feed. A second system (bottom left) generates sounds, colors and shapes that follow the silhouette captured by an infrared sensor. Both systems are integrated in real time (upper right) in order to adapt the audiovisuals to the bio signals. Output data is logged for statistical analysis.

Many philosophical and contemplative traditions teach that “living in the moment” increases happiness. However, the default mode of humans appears to be that of mind-wandering, which correlates with unhappiness, and with activation in a network of brain areas associated with self-referential processing. We investigated brain activity in experienced meditators and matched meditation-naive controls as they performed several different meditations (Concentration, Loving-Kindness, Choiceless Awareness). We found that the main nodes of the default-mode network (medial prefrontal and posterior cingulate cortices) were relatively deactivated in experienced meditators across all meditation types. Furthermore, functional connectivity analysis revealed stronger coupling in experienced meditators between the posterior cingulate, dorsal anterior cingulate, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices (regions previously implicated in self-monitoring and cognitive control), both at baseline and during meditation. Our findings demonstrate differences in the default-mode network that are consistent with decreased mind-wandering. As such, these provide a unique understanding of possible neural mechanisms of meditation [1].

 

Figure2. Experienced meditators demonstrate coactivation of mPFC, insula, and temporal lobes during meditation. Differential functional connectivity with mPFC seed region and left posterior insula is shown in meditators > controls: (A) at baseline and (B) during meditation. (C) Connectivity z-scores (±SD) are shown for left posterior insula. Choiceless Awareness (green bars), Loving-Kindness (red), and Concentration (blue) meditation conditions are shown separately. For each color, baseline condition is displayed on the left and the meditation period on right. n = 12/group. FWE-corrected, P < 0.05.

[1]

Literature:

J. A. Brewer, P. D. Worhunsky, J. R. Gray, Y. Y. Tang, J. Weber and H. Kober, "Meditation experience is associated with differences in default mode network activity and connectivity," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 108, no. 50, pp. 20254-20259, 13 12 2011.

[2]

I. Z. Khazan, The clinical handbook of biofeedback: a step by step guide for training and practice with mindfulness.

[3]

B. Eggen, "Interactive Soundscapes of the Future Everyday Life," 2016, pp. 239-251.

[4]

C. L. BALDWIN, AUDITORY COGNITION AND HUMAN PERFORMANCE: research and applications., CRC PRESS, 2019.

[5]

Sensory Evaluation of Sound, CRC Press, 2018.

Lecture Videos:

[6]

"Mindfulness and Neurofeedback - YouTube," [Online]. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wil45EaQvUE

[7]

"The Neuroscience of Consciousness - YouTube," [Online]. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_ZTNmkIiBc&t=2276s

[8]

"Free will and mind-reading, John-Dylan Haynes - YouTube," [Online]. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXXaIgfiFXs

[9]

"The Science of the Voices in your Head – with Charles Fernyhough - YouTube," [Online]. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95otBlepVHc

[10]

"Watch This Before You Start Learning Sanskrit! - YouTube," [Online]. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0emIewicwl0

 

Podcasts, Audio Books, Physics lab

[11]

"37: Dr. Kirby Surprise - The Science of Synchronicity - YouTube," [Online]. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLjobqkoKYo

[12]

"Pragmatism by William James (FULL Audiobook) - YouTube," [Online]. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJhuLlLpeIQ

[13]

"Quantum Field Theory - YouTube," [Online]. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBeALt3rxEA.