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Mapping the Interface between Meditation and Neuroscience

Image by bkkm via iStockPhoto

Though mindfulness and other forms of meditation are receiving an increasing amount of attention from the scientific community, there is limited understanding of how experiential models of traditional meditation practices map onto frameworks common to psychology and neuroscience. Center researchers and collaborators are building new approaches to understand the links between traditional contemplative perspectives and scientific theory to form better hypotheses about the scientific effects of meditation training on the brain, body, mind and behavior.

In this project, we are modeling different forms of meditation practice and grouping them into "families." We discuss the traditional role that these families play in training the mind as well as in corresponding scientific models, theories and data. These efforts will guide future research on contemplative practices and provide new insights into how such practices might alleviate suffering and promote well-being.

People Working on This Study

Cortland Dahl
Research Scientist, Center for Healthy Minds & Chief Contemplative Officer, Healthy Minds Innovations
Richard J. Davidson
Founder, Center for Healthy Minds & Healthy Minds Innovations, William James & Vilas Professor of Psychology & Psychiatry
Christy Wilson Mendenhall
Christy Wilson-Mendenhall
Associate Scientist, Center for Healthy Minds & Scientific Lead, Healthy Minds Program, Healthy Minds Innovations
Pelin Kesebir
Pelin Kesebir
Assistant Scientist, Center for Healthy Minds

Related Publications

Dahl, C. J., Lutz, A., & Davidson, R. J. (2016). Cognitive processes are central in compassion meditation. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 20(3), 161-2. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2015.12.005 PMCID: Policy Exempt -- Not a peer-reviewed research article.
Dahl, C. J., Lutz, A., & Davidson, R. J. (2015). Reconstructing and deconstructing the self: Cognitive mechanisms in meditation practice. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 19(9), 515–23. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2015.07.001 PMCID: PMC4595910
Davidson, R. J., & Dahl, C. J. (2017). Varieties of contemplative practice. JAMA Psychiatry. 74(2), 121-23. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.3469 PMCID: Policy Exempt – Not a peer-reviewed research article.
Davidson, R. J. & Dahl, C. J. (2017). Outstanding challenges in scientific research on mindfulness and meditation. Perspectives on Psychological Science. 13(1), 62-65. doi: 10.1177/1745691617718358 PMCID: Policy Exempt -- not funded by NIH grants
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