Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘mindfulness’

left parietal lobe(red) and corpus callosum, d...
Image via Wikipedia

The brain and mind changes that come with extensive yoga practice seem to increase inner awareness and – as many practitioners report – towards a more “spiritual” awareness.  What is this? … in terms of specific brain systems? One recent research article,  “The Spiritual Brain: Selective Cortical Lesions Modulate Human Self-Transcendence” has much to say on the types of brain systems that are engaged when we are experiencing connections to each other, our inner selves and other deeper, broader perspectives.

The researchers measured the self-transcendence scores of individuals before and after the removal of brain tissue (gliomas) in various parts of the brain – specifically the posterior parietal cortex.  It was interesting that the – removal – of certain areas of the brain resulted in – higher – scores for self-transcendence.  Perhaps this suggests that the effort made in yoga – to silence and still our mental processes – might have a roughly analogous effect of taking certain brain areas “offline”?  Could this be what is happening in yoga and meditation? – a quieting of the posterior parietal cortex?  Much to ponder and explore.

Combining pre- and post-neurosurgery personality assessment with advanced brain-lesion mapping techniques, we found that selective damage to left and right inferior posterior parietal regions induced a specific increase of self-transcendence. Therefore, modifications of neural activity in temporoparietal areas may induce unusually fast modulations of a stable personality trait related to transcendental self-referential awareness.

It is relevant that the posterior parietal cortex is involved in the representation of different aspects of bodily knowledge.  Lesions of the left posterior parietal cortex induce selective deficits in the representation of the spatial relationships between body segments and delusions regarding body parts occur after lesions centered on the right temporoparietal cortex. Furthermore, illusory localization of the self into the extrapersonal space has been reported in patients with left (heautoscopic phenomena) and right temporoparietal damage (out-of-body experiences). Thus, we posit that the reduction of neural activity in the temporoparietal cortex during spiritual experiences may reflect an altered sense of one’s own body in space.

A great review of this article and the psychological assessments used to quantify “self-transcendence” can be found at NeuroWhoa! and also at Neurophilosophy.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Read Full Post »