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Lessons from the ReSource study: Examples for neurophenomenological research using different levels of first-person accounts and analyses

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Lumma,  Anna-Lena
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Przyrembel,  Marisa
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Singer,  Tania
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Lumma, A.-L., Przyrembel, M., & Singer, T. (2016). Lessons from the ReSource study: Examples for neurophenomenological research using different levels of first-person accounts and analyses. Talk presented at First MLE Hub Meeting of the European Neurophenomenology, Contemplative, and Embodied Cognition Network (ENCECON). Château de la Bourlie, Urval, France. 2016-06-06 - 2016-06-10.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-A35C-D
Abstract
nvestigating how subjective experiences are related to neuronal and physiological processes is among the most fascinating but challenging endeavors within neuroscience and philosophy. Neurophenomenologists suggest studying participants who have well developed introspective skills to better disentangle how subjective experiences and neuronal mechanisms are associated. Hence, prior studies have frequently invited expert meditators as participants. Expert meditators often have a better meta-awareness of their own subjective experiences, which not only suggests that contemplative practices such as meditation can influence introspective skills, but also that they can potentially be used as a tool to study subjective experiences. However, even within this context, the question how to best operationalize and study different types of subjective experiences as well as their change is still under empirical investigation. To refine and facilitate neurophenomenological studies, we will introduce a classification of different types of subjective experiences, clustering the latter according to three distinct levels of complexity. We will suggest that (i) the coarse level represents stable, trait-like subjective experiences that are typically measured with closed-format self-report questionnaires; (ii) the semi fine-grained level represents state-like subjective experiences that fluctuate more frequently and can be assessed with ratings of momentary experiences; and (iii) the fine-grained level represents more subtle subjective experiences that are often hard to verbalize and can best be measured with open-format measures and structured in-depth interviews. We will then present data for each type of above subjective experience level from the ReSource project, a large-scale longitudinal mental training study in which participants underwent training within three 3-months training modules that were designed to teach attentional, socio-affective, or socio-cognitive skills. Based on these findings, we will discuss the advantages and implications of applying the above classification to different types of subjective experiences, and how such an approach could facilitate and clarify neurophenomenological research.