Where will we be without conceptual associations triggered by semantic stimuli?

Marco… … … Polo…

…reality is originally devoid of ontological properties and it is only via an incessant and largely unconscious habit of emotional self-reference and categorization that a conceptual structure is created and ultimately reified; a process necessary for daily life, but that also tends to condition the individual into predefined patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Meditation is believed to counteract this tendency in favor of a condition of equanimity where the provisional nature of one’s own conceptual structure is realized, bringing about a greater freedom of thought and action as well as a decreased sense of self-attachment.

…the attempt at mental regulation through meditation involves developing a progressive familiarity with the interplay of voluntary attention (often directed to the breath and/or the posture) and the spontaneous conceptual processing that appears in its fractures…


…we tested the hypothesis that the habitual practice of being heedful to distraction from spontaneous thoughts during meditation renders regular meditators, as compared to control subjects, more able to voluntarily contain the automatic cascade of conceptual associations triggered by semantic stimuli.


I’m not sold on the word/nonword task — why not just use real words at intervals and MRI the brains to “look” for indications of conceptual thinking? Still, between this and LHC and the ongoing research of yogis, we’re getting closer. And, funnily enough, further away.



4 Responses

  1. I’d think it’d be more interesting to watch some brains digest this research paper. This following excerpt is particularly interesting though…

    While both of these components are thought to promote a state of mental readiness that may decrease reaction times to an external stimulus, they were not included in our protocol for pragmatic reasons, i.e., that the simplified meditative technique of breath concentration could be easily adopted by the non-meditators, as well as the impossibility of assuming a seated posture in the scanner. These factors may explain the observed lack of differences in the behavioral results between meditators and controls.

    Basically, they’re saying their research is meaningless because they couldn’t implement a control group. Too funny.

  2. Yes!

    God, this is sure problematic, but I love the way they set it up.

    What an amazing time this is. Edging into little scientific breakthroughs (cross-disiplinarily–the good stuff is happening at intersections of traditionally isolated domains, except for Physics, which is just awesome all by itself).

    Sometimes I forget, what with society collapsing and stuff.

    Thanks for posting this. I’ll try to follow the literature (hoping it generates one…).

  3. (Nice overview from the hipsters: http://www.activate.us/173141)

  4. I like these quotes, especially the second one – ‘ the spontaneous conceptual processing that appears in its fractures’ ….

    DZM, I tried twice to comment again on your last post, but I don’t seem able to?

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