Hi Bill,

I posted it simply as a news story, I certainly didn't put my seal of approval on it. I also didn't think Ricard looked particularly enlightened, but hey, maybe it was just all those electrodes? :-)

Best,
Edgar



On Sep 11, 2008, at 8:56 AM, Bill Smart wrote:

Edgar,

I'm in the process of reading your paper on time. It written with
meticulous care to follow the scientific process. Why then would you
be drawn into this kind of psuedo-science?

For just one example, the first fatal flaw in this experiment is the
assumption that Matthieu Ricard is representative of Buddhis monks,
and that Buddhist monks as a group have 'developed a greater
capacity for forgiveness and compassion'. I know that's the popular
consensus, certainly on this forum, and it's even my belief - BUT,
that doesn't make it a valid assumption on which to base a scientific
experiement.

Or...were you forwarding this to us to share it as a joke?

...Bill!

--- In Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com, Edgar Owen <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
>
> Can love change your mind? New project explores neuroscience of
> 'positive qualities'
>
>
>
> 
>
> Wearing a 128-channel geodesic sensor net, Buddhist monk Matthieu
> Ricard sits in a soundproof room and talks with Richard Davidson
> (right) before participating in an electroencephalography (EEG)
test
> at the EEG facility at the Waisman Center in June. Davidson,
director
> of the Waisman Lab for Brain Imaging and Behavior, recently
received
> a grant to create a new research initiative on the neuroscience of
> compassion, love and forgiveness, where he will investigate how
those
> virtues work in the human mind. Photo: Jeff Miller
>
> What is happening in the minds of people who have developed a
greater
> capacity for forgiveness and compassion? Can a quality like love
â€"
> whether it's shown toward a family member or a friend â€" be
> neurologically measured in the brain?
>
> A new research project at UWâ€"Madison offers the opportunity to
apply
> hard science to these seemingly ethereal questions. UWâ€"Madison
> psychology professor Richard Davidson, director of the Waisman
> Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, has received a $2.5
> million grant from the Michigan-based Fetzer Institute to create a
> new research initiative on the neuroscience of compassion, love
and
> forgiveness, investigating how these virtues manifest themselves
in
> the human mind and whether we have the ability to nurture and
expand
> them through practice.
>
> Davidson already has the foundation for probing these questions
> through his decade-long work exploring brain function and
meditation.
> Davidson works with a population of Tibetan monks and lay
> practitioners who have incorporated meditation practices into
their
> daily lives, looking into how that practice impacts their mental
and
> physical health.
>
> Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques,
> Davidson has been able to demonstrate that significant positive
> changes in brain behavior can be activated through meditation and
> other "contemplative practices." The research has been very
> influential in providing evidence of "neuroplasticity," the idea
that
> brain function changes throughout life in response to experience
and
> purposeful training.
>
> "This is totally uncharted territory," says Davidson of the Fetzer
> project. "This grant is really meant to launch a new field where
the
> wisdom of the contemplative traditions can intersect with hard-
nosed
> mainstream science to understand how the brain can be transformed,
> through certain exercises, to strengthen these kinds of positive
> qualities."
>
> Davidson's ultimate goal is build a deep base of scientific
evidence
> not only of the neurological machinery that supports these
qualities,
> but of specific practices that can have an impact on mental health
> and point the way to new techniques to cultivate these virtues in
> children and adults, including those with disabilities.
>
> "Most commentators agree that if the world contained more people
who
> more often displayed qualities such as love, forgiveness,
compassion
> and related characteristics, some of the myriad problems that
plague
> modern society would be less severe," Davidson says.
>
> Davidson's research team has already done studies on compassion,
in
> which they examined how specific mental training exercises were
able
> to elicit changes in a brain region called the insula, an area
that
> is directly tied to interactions between the mind and body. When
> subjects are asked to respond to stimuli that depicts human
> suffering, for example, there are often parallel physical
reactions
> in the body that can be measured. Those reactions may serve as
> motivators for the propensity to help others, Davidson says.
>
> One big challenge will be how to define, isolate and measure what
> responses in the brain are directly connected with a construct
such
> as love or forgiveness. Davidson says a great deal of their
success
> will depend on whether specific studies can be designed to really
> hone in on a particular virtue. Adding to the challenge is the
fact
> that many of these virtues may be related neurologically.
>
> The question of measuring love may be especially challenging, but
> Davidson says there are some intriguing options. For example, when
> people talk about immediate family members â€" parents, children,
> spouses â€" it's easy to identify qualities that most people would
> agree constitute love, such as a selflessness and a sense
one "would
> do anything" for that person. But it's much harder to explain
beyond
> immediate family.
>
> "It may well be that for most people, the experience of love is
> something that is pretty restricted to that close circle of
people,"
> he says. "If that's true, it actually allows us to see how a
person's
> response to people inside that sphere are different from those
> outside the sphere."
>
> As part of the Fetzer initiative, Davidson has named two graduate
> students who are working in the general area of contemplative
> neuroscience as Fetzer Fellows. The first two fellowships are held
by
> Daniel Levinson, a first-year graduate student who completed his
> undergraduate studies at Stanford University, and third-year
student
> Helen Weng, who completed her undergraduate work at Columbia
University.
>
> Levinson says he will study the ways in which meditation
influences
> emotion and attention, and understand the brain processes that
allow
> people to excel at those behaviors. Those same brain processes
might
> inform work on love, compassion and forgiveness.
>
> "It is a rare gift to be funded to do what you care about most
> deeply," Levinson says.
>
> Davidson adds that the Fetzer Institute work will be part of a
larger
> center in development called the Center for Creating a Healthy
Mind,
> which will open in about a year in newly renovated space at the
> Waisman Center.
>
> The Fetzer Institute, based in Kalamazoo, Mich., is devoted to
> fostering awareness of the power of love and forgiveness in the
> emerging global community.
>
> "The Fetzer Institute is pleased to join professor Davidson and
his
> colleagues at the University of Wisconsin in this exciting new
> program," says Tom Beech, Fetzer president and CEO. "It will bring
> the powerful methods of neuroscience to bear on one of the most
> pressing and fundamental issues that humanity faces today â€"
namely,
> our capacity to love and forgive. We expect that this work will
help
> us understand the fundamental nature of compassion and how to
> cultivate it in our daily lives."
>
> Source: University of Wisconsin
> http://www.physorg.com/news140272241.html
>




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