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First findings from the ReSource Project: Training mind and heart

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Böckler,  Anne
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Bornemann,  Boris
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Kok,  Bethany E.
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Trautwein,  Fynn-Mathis
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Böckler, A., Bornemann, B., Kok, B. E., & Trautwein, F.-M. (2014). First findings from the ReSource Project: Training mind and heart. Talk presented at International Symposium for Contemplative Studies (ISCS) of the Mind & Life Institute. Boston, MA, USA. 2014-10-30 - 2014-11-02.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-2F8D-B
Abstract
The ReSource Project is a large-scale multi-method longitudinal study investigating the effects of different meditations and mental training practices on subjective experience, behavior, brain, and physiology. Over nine months, 180 participants underwent a structured curriculum with three modules of three months each. The first module (“presence”) consisted of training attention and interoceptive awareness, another (“affect”) focused on cultivating loving kindness, thankfulness, emotion-acceptance, and prosocial motivation, and a third (“perspective”) focused on cognitive perspective taking of self and others as well as meta-cognitive awareness. Traditional individual meditations were complemented by structured partner exercises, called “contemplative dyads”. The panel will provide the first results on training-related changes observed in the project, focusing on four domains: 1) Subjective reports: We will report differential effects of the core meditative practices of the three modules (e.g., body scan, breath-, heart-, and “observing thoughts” meditation) on daily reports of affect, thought content, body awareness, and meta-cognitive abilities, assessed before and after each type of meditation. 2) Prosocial Behavior: Using a multitude of computer-based tasks and self-reports, we will deconstruct the structure of human prosociality into several sub-factors including prosocial motivation, norm compliance, and strategizing. Training - induced changes will be reported. 3) Autonomic Measures: We will present new measures sensitive to change in subjective and physiological body awareness and regulation of the autonomic nervous system (e.g., vagal tone). 4) Brain Measures: We will present a novel video-based fMRI task designed for longitudinal designs. It allows, within 30 minutes, to assess empathy, theory of mind, and meta-cognitive abilities. Findings in relation to the ReSource project will be discussed. The modular structure of the ReSource curriculum, combined with a dense net of multi-method measurements will advance our understanding of the effects and underlying mechanisms of specific practices, going beyond global effects of engaging in contemplative training. Learning Objectives At the conclusion of this session, participants should be able to …understand changes and stability occurring through intensive meditation training on different levels of observation from subjective experience and behavior down to physiology and brain function. … understand the differences between various contemplative practices focusing on training attention, interoceptive awareness, meta-cognition, perspective taking, positive affect, and affect regulation in their potential to shape biological and psychological functioning. … think in a more differentiated way about human capacities such as empathy, compassion, interoceptive awareness, perspective - taking, prosocial behavior and their respective interactions and dependencies.