In 2007, along with Tania Singer, I was in Rainer Goebel’s neuroscience laboratory in Maastricht, as a collaborator and guinea pig in a research program on empathy. Tania would ask me to give rise to a powerful feeling of empathy by imagining people affected by great suffering. Tania was using a new fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) technique used by Goebel. It has the advantage of following the changes of activity of the brain in real time (fMRI-rt), whereas data usually cannot be analyzed until later on. According to the protocol of this kind of experiment, the meditator, myself in this case, must alternate twenty or so times between periods when he or she engenders a particular mental state, here empathy, with moments when he relaxes his mind in a neutral state, without thinking of anything in particular or applying any method of meditation. more...
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