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Conscious Cogn. 2018 Jan;57:41-53. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2017.11.003. Epub 2017 Nov 21.

Mapping complex mind states: EEG neural substrates of meditative unified compassionate awareness.

Author information

1
University of Massachusetts Medical School, Center for Mindfulness, Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, Shrewsbury, MA, USA; Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, Nashville, TN, USA. Electronic address: poppy.schoenberg@vanderbilt.edu.
2
University of Massachusetts Medical School, Center for Mindfulness, Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, Shrewsbury, MA, USA.
3
William James College, Department of Clinical Psychology, Newton, MA, USA.
4
Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry, Boston, MA, USA.

Abstract

Specific mental training cultivates diminished self-reference, encompassing non-duality, emptiness, awakened-awareness, and compassionate experiences. We aimed to elucidate the neural substrates of four distinct, interdependent Essence-of-Mind states: (1) timelessness, (2) non-preference, non-duality, non-conceptualization, (3) the view of luminosity and limitlessness, (4) unified compassionate experience of oneness (stable awakened-awareness). EEG data were collected from 30 advanced meditators concomitant to eyes-open/eyes-closed resting baseline, followed by 60-min of instructed practice. Alpha, beta, and gamma, frequency-spatial EEG-dimensions were analyzed. The results revealed that compared to baseline, current density across frequencies significantly decreased upon meditation onset in self-referential, and executive-control regions. During meditation, gamma-band current density significantly increased from state-1 compared to state-4, within the ACC, precuneus, and superior parietal lobule, whereas beta-band activity increased within the insula. These findings suggest a dissociation between brain regions regulating self-referential vs. executive-control processing, during non-dual, compassionate states, characterized by brilliantly awake awareness, free from conceptual thought and "doing".

PMID:
29169033
DOI:
10.1016/j.concog.2017.11.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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