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Publication Detail
Neural correlates of non-judgmental perception induced through meditation

Ambiguous sensory stimuli provide insight into the dynamics of the human mind. When viewing substantially different images in the two eyes (i.e., binocular rivalry), perception spontaneously fluctuates between the two images along with patch-like mixtures of the two, with limited ability to control such fluctuations. Previous studies have shown that long-term meditation training can enable a more stable perception by reducing such fluctuations. Using EEG, we investigated the neural bases of perceptual stabilization in long-term meditators and age-matched meditation-naïve control participants. We measured binocular rivalry alternations before and after participants practiced meditation. We expected that perceptual stabilization through meditation could occur via one of two neurocognitive mechanisms, 1) a more engaged/effortful attention reflected by increased long-range phase-synchronization between early visual sensory and higher-level brain regions or, 2) a disengaged/non-evaluative form of attention reflected by decreased phase-synchronization. We found that compared to control participants, long-term meditators, were in a significantly longer mixed perceptual state following concentrative meditation practice. The increase in mixed percepts across individuals was strongly correlated with reduced parieto-occipital gamma-band (30–50 Hz) phase-synchrony. These findings suggest that concentrative meditation enables a non-evaluative perceptual stance supported by reduced communication between hierarchical visual brain regions.

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