Scanning the brains of Tibetan monks, scientists were able to describe the “physiology of meditation”

In the brain there are two functional networks: external — for communication with the world, inner — to communicate with you. At the same time they usually don’t work. But it turned out that together, they are activated during meditation, “when you achieve a sense of harmony and unity with the world.”

Professor Zoran Yosypovych from new York University for several years studying Tibetan monks. The main tool in his research is the functional magnetic resonance imaging; Professor specializiruetsya in neurophysiology, and the monks took him in order to find out some fundamental principles of the functioning of the brain.

The activity of the brain divided in two functional networks: internal and external. The external network is working when you perform some task in the “outside world”, whether it be communicating with other people or a morning shower. Internal (or, as it is called, “network default”) occurs, when a person turns on the self-awareness when he reflects on himself, his emotions, analyzes the behavior, etc. Earlier it was believed that such reflection responds to the activity of the brain, which manifests itself in a moment of peace, when we, roughly speaking, not doing anything.

But it was later discovered that in moments of rest and idleness in the brain is starting to happen, and this is not the usual background activity. Still later, the researchers came to the conclusion that the functional network that demonstrates such activity, connected with the phenomenon of consciousness. In other words, this network is responsible for understanding that you’re you.

Networks cannot operate simultaneously. Their work likened to a children’s seesaw: when one edge of the Board goes up, the other goes down. This “division of labor” helps a person to focus on solving problems, to control your attention and not assume, for example, a crow outside my window during a school lesson.

How is the switching between systems, is the subject of extensive research, including Professor Yosypovych with colleagues. In the case of the monks of researchers interested in the behavior of external networks and internal networks during meditation. It is believed that this is achieved as a special unity with the world, the dissolution of individual identity in the surrounding harmony. How this is implemented in the brain, where the external and internal systems constantly take each other’s place? For the answer to this question, a study was undertaken meditating monks: using functional MRI to monitor changes in blood flow in the brain during meditation.

According to scientists, during meditation the brain violates the rule described above: it aktiviziruyutsya both systems, both internal and external. Due to this and achieved “fusion with the world” when the data flow from the outside coincides with the data flow that describes “me”.

In a sense, this information refutes the postulate of the necessity of complete suppression of the inner self to achieve harmony: apparently, the Tibetan monks during meditation is the “I” is flourishing. On the other hand, such studies are not only to respond to speculative and esoteric questions. Scientists believe that the imbalance of these two networks are guilty of such ailments as autism, clinical depression and even Alzheimer’s disease — they are all more or less connected with disorder of consciousness, loss of self and loss of contact with the “outside world”. And however extravagant may seem the Tibetan monks as the object of study, they may just help to understand what to do with all this rich set of severe mental and neurological disorders.

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