Meditation, prefrontal cortex and Dzogchen

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Meditation, prefrontal cortex and Dzogchen

Postby Sherlock » Sat Sep 08, 2012 4:43 pm

I've been reading this book called The Willpower Instinct (which is pretty good BTW) which keeps bringing up activation of the prefrontal cortex and its relation to willpower. From doing more research on meditation, it does seem that meditation generally brings about an increase in activity in the prefrontal cortex. However, I remember this post from one of our members here about a Vajra sister who is a neuroscientist finding that Dzogchen actually decreases activity in the medial prefrontal cortex and increases activity in the hypothalamus, which seems to contradict research in other forms of meditation.

This is very interesting and puzzling to me. I definitely feel like I have all the purported benefits of other forms of meditation just by practising (mainly) guruyoga in the Dzogchen way but the research indicates that the physiological effects are quite different.
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Re: Meditation, prefrontal cortex and Dzogchen

Postby oushi » Sat Sep 08, 2012 5:39 pm

Because it is about dropping willpower, and deliberate activities. As everything is meditation, what does deliberate meditation add to the whole? Nothing, just an illusion that it does make a difference, and that there is a goal.
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Because no objects exist which are not me,
You are beyond perspective or meditation."
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Re: Meditation, prefrontal cortex and Dzogchen

Postby Sherlock » Sat Sep 08, 2012 5:59 pm

Yes, what you said makes sense, but physiologically, some of the benefits that are shared by both other forms of meditation and Dzogchen seem hard to explain, that's my main query.
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Re: Meditation, prefrontal cortex and Dzogchen

Postby Matt J » Sun Sep 09, 2012 1:58 pm

Actually, brain science (see Rick Hanson and James Austin for starters) indicates that deliberate meditation, over time, actually rewires the brain such that the brain shows different patterns when reacting (or non-reacting) to stimuli.

oushi wrote:Because it is about dropping willpower, and deliberate activities. As everything is meditation, what does deliberate meditation add to the whole? Nothing, just an illusion that it does make a difference, and that there is a goal.
"I determine all events and meanings.
Because no objects exist which are not me,
You are beyond perspective or meditation."
The Great Way is not difficult
If only there is no picking or choosing
--- Xin Xin Ming

http://zenanddao.blogspot.com/
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Re: Meditation, prefrontal cortex and Dzogchen

Postby futerko » Sun Sep 09, 2012 2:18 pm

I think if you take seriously the idea that there is no such thing as pure willpower and that motivation is about perceptions of value ascribed to a perceived object, then wouldn't it make sense for successful meditators to find a reduction in their responses to objects of desire and aversion?
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: Meditation, prefrontal cortex and Dzogchen

Postby oushi » Sun Sep 09, 2012 4:45 pm

Matt J wrote:Actually, brain science (see Rick Hanson and James Austin for starters) indicates that deliberate meditation, over time, actually rewires the brain such that the brain shows different patterns when reacting (or non-reacting) to stimuli.

And what does that prove? Every repeated activity rewires the brain. I would expect meditation to do a great work in this area, I just don't know what it has to do with Buddha Dharma. Is there a Buddha brain schema one needs to feet in?
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Re: Meditation, prefrontal cortex and Dzogchen

Postby Andrew108 » Mon Sep 10, 2012 7:22 am

The idea is that rewiring the brain through meditation leads to a reduction of suffering.
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Re: Meditation, prefrontal cortex and Dzogchen

Postby viniketa » Mon Sep 10, 2012 12:28 pm

Seems the stage/type of meditation is associated with different areas of the brain:

Mind Wandering

Mindfulness

Compassion

The prefrontal cortex is one of the last regions of the brain to reach maturation. This delay may help to explain why some adolescents act the way they do. The so-called “executive functions” of the human prefrontal cortex include:

Focusing attention
Organizing thoughts and problem solving
Foreseeing and weighing possible consequences of behavior
Considering the future and making predictions
Forming strategies and planning
Ability to balance short-term rewards with long term goals
Shifting/adjusting behavior when situations change
Impulse control and delaying gratification
Modulation of intense emotions
Inhibiting inappropriate behavior and initiating appropriate behavior
Simultaneously considering multiple streams of information when faced with complex and challenging information
http://www.hhs.gov/opa/familylife/tech_ ... al_cortex/


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Re: Meditation, prefrontal cortex and Dzogchen

Postby Quiet Heart » Tue Sep 11, 2012 2:43 am

:smile:
Actually, I do remember something about meditation being shown to make changes in the brain...the pre-fontal cortex areas also....but I don't remember the exact details right now.
I subscribe to a daily "science" newsletter (by internet) and there are quite often brief news items on Psychology, meditation, and perception/awareness causing measurable changes in thr brain.
Off hand, I think his was in the last six months....and dealt with measurable effects in the brain with Meditation practices.
:smile:
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in your wife's lovely face
in your baby's laughter?
Did you think you had to go elsewhere (simply) to find it?
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Re: Meditation, prefrontal cortex and Dzogchen

Postby Yudron » Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:02 am

Quiet Heart wrote::smile:
Actually, I do remember something about meditation being shown to make changes in the brain...the pre-fontal cortex areas also....but I don't remember the exact details right now.
I subscribe to a daily "science" newsletter (by internet) and there are quite often brief news items on Psychology, meditation, and perception/awareness causing measurable changes in thr brain.
Off hand, I think his was in the last six months....and dealt with measurable effects in the brain with Meditation practices.
:smile:


I've heard from my lama that there is a Dudjom Lingpa text where he specifically says that rigpa is experieced as being in the back of the brain. This is used to explain how one can rest in rigpa (in the back of ones brain) while interacting with phenomena (with the front of one's brain.) I don't know what text that is in--but I find it very interesting.
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Re: Meditation, prefrontal cortex and Dzogchen

Postby tomamundsen » Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:03 am

Yudron wrote:I've heard from my lama that there is a Dudjom Lingpa text where he specifically says that rigpa is experieced as being in the back of the brain. This is used to explain how one can rest in rigpa (in the back of ones brain) while interacting with phenomena (with the front of one's brain.) I don't know what text that is in--but I find it very interesting.

Fascinating!
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Re: Meditation, prefrontal cortex and Dzogchen

Postby Lhug-Pa » Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:38 pm

If that is so, could Dudjom Lingpa be referring to the (Hypo)Thalamus or the Pituitary or the Pineal glands?

More possibly the Pineal gland, as it is more towards the back of the brain.

It is said that the Pituitary gland is more connected to the Central Channel, and that the Thalamus and/or Hypothalamus are apparently more connected to one of the side channels, and that the Pineal gland is more connected to the other side-channel.

Esoteric Endocrinology

(From a more Hindu and Christian-Kabbalist perspective^)
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Re: Meditation, prefrontal cortex and Dzogchen

Postby Sherlock » Mon Sep 17, 2012 12:08 pm

Dr Elena Antonova got back to me:

The concentration meditation techniques will engage top-down attentional network, which includes parts of the lateral prefrontal cortex. Voluntary orienting of attention will also engage Anterior Cingulate which is adjacent to the medial Prefrontal Cortex (mPFC). When practicing Dzogchen, one switches to the bottom-up dynamic of the brain, using orienting receptive attentional network, away from PFC. Also, as the mode of the awareness is receptive, with no need for 'agency', i.e. directing attention in a particular way voluntarily, mPFC does not get engaged.

In such receptive mode, thalamus (not hypothalamus as in your email), which is a sensory gate is activated, letting sensory stimuli (either external or internal) flow into the cortex.

We know from other studies that mPFC activation is associated with an experience of reified 'separate' self across time. To what extend this sense of self and mere agency could be dissociated and to what extend this would modulate the activity of mPFC is currently unclear.
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Re: Meditation, prefrontal cortex and Dzogchen

Postby Andrew108 » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:57 pm

Very interesting. Thanks for posting.
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