Meditating neurons
This page describes the organizational forces that limit change.  It explains how to overcome them when necessary. 

Power& tradition holding back progress
This page uses an example to illustrate how:
  • A business can gain focus from targeting key customers,
  • Business planning activities performed by the whole organization can build awareness, empowerment and coherence. 
  • A program approach can ensure strategic alignment. 
Be responsive to market dynamics
This page uses the example of HP's printer organization freeing itself from its organizational constraints to sell a printer targeted at the IBM pc user. 
The constraints are described. 
The techniques to overcome them are implied. 
Overcome reactionaries
Primary Navigation

Meditating neurons



Summary
Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson describe a scientific investigation of meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
's impact on the brain.  They introduce the book by describing their experiences with meditation, science and the research establishment, their friendship, how meditation is now used in two distinct ways: deep - leading to altered traits reflect changes to four neural pathways that Goleman & Davidson identify in Altered Traits.  These networks support: stress reactions - induced experimentally with the TSST, compassion and empathy, attention, sense of self; and are altered by different types of meditation.  An altered state refers to changes that occur only during meditation.  All meditation has the contemplative goal of altered traits leading to being free of suffering by revealing our Bhudda nature.  An altered trait indicates that the practice of meditation has tranformed the brain so the induced changes are seen before beginning to meditate.  Goleman & Davidson developed a robust behavioral measure for attention: the ability to maintain focus while counting breaths.  The test requires pressing a keyboard's down arrow on each outbreath except on the nineth when a different key is pressed and counting restarts at one.  The objective metric is the difference between the subjective count and the actual number of breaths taken.   & wide - that can reach the multitudes; which the book reviews as it critiques the claims and research used to back them up. 

Goleman and Davidson describe meeting as Harvard psychology graduate students, interested in consciousness, and how minds work.  They rebel against the behavioral orthodoxy, visit Asia and discover the Eastern tradition of exploring and altering the
Computational theory of the mind and evolutionary psychology provide Steven Pinker with a framework on which to develop his psychological arguments about the mind and its relationship to the brain.  Humans captured a cognitive niche by natural selection 'building out' specialized aspects of their bodies and brains resulting in a system of mental organs we call the mind. 

He garnishes and defends the framework with findings from psychology regarding: The visual system - an example of natural selections solutions to the sensory challenges of inverse modeling of our environment; Intensions - where he highlights the challenges of hunter gatherers - making sense of the objects they perceive and predicting what they imply and natural selections powerful solutions; Emotions - which Pinker argues are essential to human prioritizing and decision making; Relationships - natural selection's strategies for coping with the most dangerous competitors, other people.  He helps us understand marriage, friendships and war. 

These conclusions allow him to understand the development and maintenance of higher callings: Art, Music, Literature, Humor, Religion, & Philosophy; and develop a position on the meaning of life. 

Complex adaptive system (CAS) modeling allows RSS to frame Pinker's arguments within humanity's current situation, induced by powerful evolved amplifiers: Globalization, Cliodynamics, The green revolution and resource bottlenecks; melding his powerful predictions of the drivers of human behavior with system wide constraints.  The implications are discussed. 

mind


Goleman had travelled to Sri Lanka to understand an Asian model of the mind, which he presented to the undergraduates at Harvard.  Goleman and Davidson developed it into a shared vision of consciousness.  It took over twenty years for scientific theory and experimental data to catch up and align with this model.  Much of the prior experimental data had to be abandoned

They introduce meditation's impact on the amygdala contains > 12 distinct areas: Central, Lateral.  It receives simple signals from the lower parts of the brain: pain from the PAG; and abstract complex information from the highest areas: Disgust, heart rate, and suffering from the insula cortex, allowing it to orchestrate emotion.  It connects strongly to attention focusing networks.  It sends signals to almost every other part of the brain, including to the decision making circuitry of the frontal lobes.  It has high levels of D(1) dopamine receptors.  During extreme fear the amygdala drives the hippocampus into fear learning.  It outputs directly to subcortical reflexive motor pathways when speed is required.  Its central nucleus projects to the BNST.  It signals the locus ceruleus.  It directly signals area 25.  The amygdala:
  • Promotes aggression.  Stimulating the amygdala promotes rage.  It converts anger into aggression and when impaired it impacts the ability to detect angry facial expressions.  
  • Participates in disgust
  • Perceives fear promoting stimuli, focusing our attention on these.  In PTSD sufferers the Amygdala overreacts to mildly fearful stimuli and is slow to calm down and the amygdala expands in size over a period of months.  Fear is processed by the lateral nucleus which serves as the input from various senses, and the central nucleus which outputs to the brain stem (central grey - freezing, lateral hypothalamus - blood pressure, activates paraventricular hypothalamus => crf -> hormone adjustments). 
  • Has lots of receptors for and is highly sensitive to glucocorticoids.  Stress inhibits the GABA interneurons in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) allowing the excitatory glutamate releasing neurons to excite more. 
  • Is sensitive to unsettling/uncertain social situations where it promotes anxiety and makes us distracted.  It is also interested in uncertain but potentially painful situations.  The amygdala contributes to social and emotional decision making where the BLA supports rejecting an unacceptable offer, as allowed in the Ultimatum Game, by injecting implicit mistrust and vigilance, generating an anger driven rejection that is used as punishment.  The amygdala is very rapidly excited by subliminal signals from the thalamus of outgroup skin color.  The amygdala subsequently tips social emotions against outgroups unless restrained by the frontal lobe or influenced by subliminal priming to prioritize inclusion.  The fast path from the thalamus rapidly but inaccurately signals its identified a weapon. 
  • Sees suffering of others as increasingly salient with loving-kindness meditation practice, Goleman & Davidson explain. 
  • Promotes male, but not female, sexual motivation when it is an uncertain potential pleasure. 
  • Responds to the longing for uncertain potential pleasures and fear that the reward will not be worth it if it happens.  The amygdala turns off during orgasm. 
  • Uses but is not directly involved in vision.  
responding to pain emerged as a mental experience, Damasio asserts, constructed by the mind using mapping structures and events provided by nervous systems.  But feeling pain is supported by older biological functions that support homeostasis.  These capabilities reflect the organism's underlying emotive processes that respond to wounds: antibacterial and analgesic chemical deployment, flinching and evading actions; that occur in organisms without nervous systems.  Later in evolution, after organisms with nervous systems were able to map non-neural events, the components of this complex response were 'imageable'.  Today, a wound induced by an internal disease is reported by old, unmyelinated C nerve fibers.  A wound created by an external cut is signalled by evolutionarily recent myelinated fibers that result in a sharp well-localized report, that initially flows to the dorsal root ganglia, then to the spinal cord, where the signals are mixed within the dorsal and ventral horns, and then are transmitted to the brain stem nuclei, thalamus and cerebral cortex.  The pain of a cut is located, but it is also felt through an emotive response that stops us in our tracks.  Pain amplifies the aggression response of people by interoceptive signalling of brain regions providing social emotions including the PAG projecting to the amygdala; making aggressive people more so and less aggressive people less so.  Fear of pain is a significant contributor to female anxiety.  Pain is the main reason people visit the ED in the US.  Pain is mediated by the thalamus and nucleus accumbens, unless undermined by sleep deprivation. 
and stress is a multi-faceted condition reflecting high cortisol levels.  Dr. Robert Sapolsky's studies of baboons indicate that stress helps build readiness for fight or flight.  As these actions occur the levels of cortisol return to the baseline rate.  A stressor is anything that disrupts the regular homeostatic balance.  The stress response is the array of neural and endocrine changes that occur to respond effectively to the crisis and reestablish homeostasis. 
  • The short term response to the stressor
    • activates the amygdala which: Stimulates the brain stem resulting in inhibition of the parasympathetic nervous system and activation of the sympathetic nervous system with the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine deployed around the body, Activates the PVN which generates a cascade resulting in glucocorticoid secretion to: get energy to the muscles with increased blood pressure for a powerful response.  The brain's acuity and cognition are stimulated.  The immune system is stimulated with beta-endorphin and repair activities curtail.  In order for the body to destroy bacteria in wounds, pro-inflammatory cytokines increase blood flow to the area.  The induced inflammation signals the brain to activate the insula and through it the ACC.  But when the stressor is
  • long term: loneliness, debt; and no action is necessary, or possible, long term damage ensues.  Damage from such stress may only occur in specific situations: Nuclear families coping with parents moving in.  Sustained stress provides an evolved amplifier of a position of dominance and status.  It is a strategy in female aggression used to limit reproductive competition.  Sustained stress:
    • Stops the frontal cortex from ensuring we do the harder thing, instead substituting amplification of the individual's propensity for risk-taking and impairing risk assessment! 
    • Activates the integration between the thalamus and amygdala. 
      • Acts differently on the amygdala in comparison to the frontal cortex and hippocampus: Stress strengthens the integration between the Amygdala and the hippocampus, making the hippocampus fearful. 
      • BLA & BNST respond with increased BDNF levels and expanded dendrites persistently increasing anxiety and fear conditioning. 
    • Makes it easier to learn a fear association and to consolidate it into long-term memory.  Sustained stress makes it harder to unlearn fear by making the prefrontal cortex inhibit the BLA from learning to break the fear association and weakening the prefrontal cortex's hold over the amygdala.  And glucocorticoids decrease activation of the medial prefrontal cortex during processing of emotional faces.  Accuracy of assessing emotions from faces suffers.  A terrified rat generating lots of glucocorticoids will cause dendrites in the hippocampus to atrophy but when it generates the same amount from excitement of running on a wheel the dendrites expand.  The activation of the amygdala seems to determine how the hippocampus responds. 
    • Depletes the nucleus accumbens of dopamine biasing rats toward social subordination and biasing humans toward depression. 
    • Disrupts working memory by amplifying norepinephrine signalling in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala to prefrontal cortex signalling until they become destructive.  It also desynchronizes activation in different frontal lobe regions impacting shifting of attention.  
    • Increases the risk of autoimmune disease (Jan 2017) 
  • During depression, stress inhibits dopamine signalling.  
  • Strategies for stress reduction include: Mindfulness. 


They look at the changes in:
And they warn of the occurrence of dark nights
They detail how scientists were able to study the brains of Tibetan meditation masters, starting with Mingyur Rinpoche, and detect meditation altering traits
Finally they discuss the potential benefits of meditation and strategies to distribute it broadly to a busy America. 

Altered Traits
In Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson's book 'Altered Traits' they describe how different types of mediation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
change refers to lasting changes to the brain that occur throughout the life span of the organism.  Many aspects of the brain can be altered into adulthood.  Almost anything in the nervous system can change in response to sustained stimulus.  And in a different environment the changes will often reverse.  The changes include:
  • The strength of dendritic input alters due to genetic, neural and hormonal signals
    • Hebb notes that memories require strengthening of preexisting synapses.  Glutamate responsive neurons' post synaptic dendritic spines have two types of receptor: non-NMDA and NMDA.  NMDA channels are responsible for this strengthening mechanism.  LTP then occurs to prolong the increase in excitability of the synapse. 
    • The LTP operation results in calcium diffusion which triggers new spine formation in adjacent parts of the dendrite.  Eventually that can stimulate dentrite growth enabling more neurons to connect. 
    • Short term stress promotes hippocampal LTP.  
    • Sustained stress promotes:
      • Hippocampal & frontal cortex  LTD & suppresses LTP.  Subsequent reductions in NCAM then reduce dendrite and synapse density. 
      • Amygdala LTP and suppresses LTD boosting fear conditioning.  It increases BDNF levels and expands dendrites in the BLA. 
    • Depression and anxiety reduce hippocampal dendrite and spine number by reducing BDNF. 
  • The axon's conditions for
    • Initiating an action potential. 
      • Progesterone boosts GABA-ergic neurons response to GABA decreasing the excitability of other neurons over a period of hours. 
    • Duration of a neuron's refractory period.  Testosterone shortens the refractory period of amygdala and amygdala target neurons over a period of hours. 
  • Synaptic connections being constantly removed and recreated
  • Synapses being created or destroyed.  Stimulation generates additional dendritic spines which become associated with a nearby axon terminal and within weeks a synapse forms.  The synapse then contributes calcium diffusion through LTP triggering more spine formation.  When dendritic spines recede synapses disappear. 
  • Cortical maps change to reflect alterations in the inputs and outputs from the body. 
  • Birth of brain cells in many areas of adult brains: the hippocampus (where 3% are replaced each month) and olfactory bulb and lesser amounts in the cortex. 
  • Restructuring after brain damage including axonal plasticity.  Distant rerouting of axons is observed but no mechanism has been identified yet. 
  • Vision is plastic in predators, where the eyes are moved during final development.  Dehaene argues for neuronal recycling supporting reading.  
functional networks in the brain. 

The Deep Path & the Wide
Sufferers of emotional are low level fast unconscious agents distributed across the brain and body which associate, via the amygdala and rich club hubs, important environmental signals with encoded high speed sensors, and distributed programs of action to model: predict, prioritize guidance signals, select and respond effectively, coherently and rapidly to the initial signal.  The majority of emotion centered brain regions interface to the midbrain through the hypothalamus.  The cerebellum and basal ganglia support the integration of emotion and motor functions, rewarding rhythmic movement.  The most accessible signs of emotions are the hard to control and universal facial expressions.  Emotions provide prioritization for conscious access given that an animal has only one body, but possibly many cells, with which to achieve its highest level goals.  Because of this, base emotions clash with group goals and are disparaged by the powerful.  Pinker notes a set of group selected emotions which he classes as: other-condemning, other-praising, other-suffering and self-conscious emotions.  Evolutionary psychology argues evolution shaped human emotions during the long period of hunter-gatherer existence in the African savanna.  Human emotions are universal and include: Anger, Appreciation of natural beauty, Contempt, Disgust, Embarrassment, Fear, Gratitude, Grief, Guilt, Happiness, Honor, Jealousy, Liking, Love, Moral awe, Rage, Romantic love, Lust for revenge, Passion, Sadness, Self-control, Shame, Sympathy, Surprise; and the sham emotions and distrust induced by reciprocal altruism. 
illnesses including PTSD is post-traumatic stress disorder, an induced level of stress that is so troubling to the brain that it avoids processing it, change that is necessary if the stress is to be dissipated by the normal brain processes.  The hippocampus loses volume.  The damage to the hippocampus results in: flashbacks, becoming emotionally numb and withdrawn from other people, irritability, jumpiness, being more aggressive, having trouble sleeping and avoidance of the sensory experiences associated with the initial event.  The amygdala responds to overwhelming trauma by repeatedly grabbing attention to encourage response to the emergency, increases in volume and is hyperactive and anxious.  As a result it remains in a heightened state, resulting in fear of recall and further stress.  PTSD is often accompanied by depression and substance abuse.  It is now being realized that PTSD can be introduced into patients by traumatic treatment regimens such as ICU procedures.  Traumatic head injuries, seen in athletes and soldiers can be reflected in PTSD and can subsequently become associated with prion based dementia.  Some people are genetically predisposed to PTSD, with identical twins responding similarly.  Another risk factor for PTSD is childhood trauma which can induce epi-genetic changes to stress processing.  PTSD can be managed with CBT, and it also responds to propranolol while recalling the traumatic event, where the drug undermines the memory reconsolidation process. 
have found help from meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
: mindfulness is an active meditative state of non-doing, attentively seeking each 'present moment' with one's body and mind 'being' at rest and so cultivating awareness, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn.  Some traditions define it as observing when the mind wanders.  Others use it to refer to the floating awareness that witnesses whatever happens in our experience without judging or otherwise reacting, explain Goleman & Davidson.  The thinking mind usually spends a lot of time relating to the future and past which Kabat-Zinn argues limits its ability to become fully aware of the present.  In times of stress those thoughts are so overpowering that they crowd out awareness and appreciation of the present.  Mindfulness shifts attention to calming internal feelings.  It allows review and prioritization of thoughts as they are recognized.  Major attitude based pillars of successful mindfulness are: impartial to judging, patience, a beginner's mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance of seeing things the way they are and letting go.  An awareness of the body's state can be built with tools including: inquiry, naming; from Yogi's attention to:
  • Breathing - which is a proxy for the environmental situation and through its rhythms is a model of our emotional state.  Attention to breathing reminds people to feel their bodies too.  Belly breathing is particularly relaxing.  
  • Sitting - erect with head, neck and back aligned vertically.  Then attend to breathing moving back to it each time you observe the mind has wandered.  When the body becomes uncomfortable, direct attention to the discomfort, observe and welcome it.  
  • Experience our body - rather than model, judge or hate it relative to an ideal - with a body scan. 
  • Hatha yoga - very slow stretching and strengthening exercises with moment-to-moment awareness supports being in your body.  
  • Walking meditation - Intentionally attend to the immediate experience of walking.  
; but this healthcare focus is a recent trend.  For centuries meditation was developed as a tool to explore the
Computational theory of the mind and evolutionary psychology provide Steven Pinker with a framework on which to develop his psychological arguments about the mind and its relationship to the brain.  Humans captured a cognitive niche by natural selection 'building out' specialized aspects of their bodies and brains resulting in a system of mental organs we call the mind. 

He garnishes and defends the framework with findings from psychology regarding: The visual system - an example of natural selections solutions to the sensory challenges of inverse modeling of our environment; Intensions - where he highlights the challenges of hunter gatherers - making sense of the objects they perceive and predicting what they imply and natural selections powerful solutions; Emotions - which Pinker argues are essential to human prioritizing and decision making; Relationships - natural selection's strategies for coping with the most dangerous competitors, other people.  He helps us understand marriage, friendships and war. 

These conclusions allow him to understand the development and maintenance of higher callings: Art, Music, Literature, Humor, Religion, & Philosophy; and develop a position on the meaning of life. 

Complex adaptive system (CAS) modeling allows RSS to frame Pinker's arguments within humanity's current situation, induced by powerful evolved amplifiers: Globalization, Cliodynamics, The green revolution and resource bottlenecks; melding his powerful predictions of the drivers of human behavior with system wide constraints.  The implications are discussed. 

mind
.  The claims about meditation have few rigorous tests. 
The deep path, exemplified by the monks and yogis, was Goleman and Davidson's original interest and it leads to the altered traits reflect changes to four neural pathways that Goleman & Davidson identify in Altered Traits.  These networks support: stress reactions - induced experimentally with the TSST, compassion and empathy, attention, sense of self; and are altered by different types of meditation.  An altered state refers to changes that occur only during meditation.  All meditation has the contemplative goal of altered traits leading to being free of suffering by revealing our Bhudda nature.  An altered trait indicates that the practice of meditation has tranformed the brain so the induced changes are seen before beginning to meditate.  Goleman & Davidson developed a robust behavioral measure for attention: the ability to maintain focus while counting breaths.  The test requires pressing a keyboard's down arrow on each outbreath except on the nineth when a different key is pressed and counting restarts at one.  The objective metric is the difference between the subjective count and the actual number of breaths taken.   they have focused their lives on.  But there are less intensive wide practices: MBSR is mindfulness-based stress reduction.  Jon Kabat-Zinn developed the stress reduction clinic where techniques are taught to develop mindfulness and integrate it and a personal vision of success into every day experience.  In Kabat-Zinn's book Full Catastrophe Living a model of stress is described that allows stressful events to be coped with effectively.  Strategies are described for a wide variety of specific situations including medical symptoms, physical and emotional pain, anxiety and panic, time pressures, relationships, work, food, and external events.  , mindfulness is an active meditative state of non-doing, attentively seeking each 'present moment' with one's body and mind 'being' at rest and so cultivating awareness, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn.  Some traditions define it as observing when the mind wanders.  Others use it to refer to the floating awareness that witnesses whatever happens in our experience without judging or otherwise reacting, explain Goleman & Davidson.  The thinking mind usually spends a lot of time relating to the future and past which Kabat-Zinn argues limits its ability to become fully aware of the present.  In times of stress those thoughts are so overpowering that they crowd out awareness and appreciation of the present.  Mindfulness shifts attention to calming internal feelings.  It allows review and prioritization of thoughts as they are recognized.  Major attitude based pillars of successful mindfulness are: impartial to judging, patience, a beginner's mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance of seeing things the way they are and letting go.  An awareness of the body's state can be built with tools including: inquiry, naming; from Yogi's attention to:
  • Breathing - which is a proxy for the environmental situation and through its rhythms is a model of our emotional state.  Attention to breathing reminds people to feel their bodies too.  Belly breathing is particularly relaxing.  
  • Sitting - erect with head, neck and back aligned vertically.  Then attend to breathing moving back to it each time you observe the mind has wandered.  When the body becomes uncomfortable, direct attention to the discomfort, observe and welcome it.  
  • Experience our body - rather than model, judge or hate it relative to an ideal - with a body scan. 
  • Hatha yoga - very slow stretching and strengthening exercises with moment-to-moment awareness supports being in your body.  
  • Walking meditation - Intentionally attend to the immediate experience of walking.  
; which reach a multitude of people, and are being extended with apps to provide mindfulness at your desk.  In the future science aims to target capabilities at specific people.  Already the Mind & Life Institute has encouraged researchers to enter the field and build a strong foundation to support mass deployment. 

Science has been traditionally skeptical of meditation's claims, especially the altered traits.  It isn't helped by much of the meditation science having been poor quality

This book allowed Goleman and Davidson to collaborate, defines what meditation is, details the neuroscience that explains the mechanisms of meditation, reviews the range of scientific research, and fills in the details that support their vision of altered traits. 

Ancient clues
Goleman travelled to India on a Harvard Pre-doctoral Traveling Fellowship in 1970, visiting the Ashram where Neem Karoli Baba (Maharajii) was an itinerant sadhu, in the Himalayan foothills.  Maharajii was highly attentive to visitors while in a state of ongoing rapture.  To Goleman he seemed totally at peace and kind, in a trait of utter wellbeing indicates the state of an organism is within homeostatic balance.  It is described by Angus Deaton as all the things that are good for a person:
  • Material wellbeing includes income and wealth and its measures: GDP, personal income and consumption.  It can be traded for goods and services which recapture time.  Material wellbeing depends on investments in:
    • Infrastructure
      • Physical
      • Property rights, contracts and dispute resolution
    • People and their education
    • Capturing of basic knowledge via science.  
    • Engineering to turn science into goods and services and then continuously improve them. 
  • Physical and psychological wellbeing are represented by health and happiness; and education and the ability to participate in civil society through democracy and the rule of law.  University of Wisconsin's Ryff focuses on Aristotle's flourishing.  Life expectancy as a measure of population health, highly weights reductions in child mortality. 
.  After two months, Goleman proceeded to travel to Bodh Gaya where he met Khunu Lama, an instructor to the Dalai Lama on the life of a bodhisattva is a Buddhist who has realized the fullness of compassion and lives from compassion.  Tara Brach explains the bodhissatva's path and teaching is that when we allow our hearts to be touched by suffering --our own or another's--our natural compassion flowers.  She describes their aspiration "May all circumstances serve to awaken compassion."
, and practiced vipassana means 'to see clearly' in Pali.  It is the foundational mindfulness (Theravadan) meditation.  It aims to allow the stream of experience to move through attention.  S. N. Goenka aimed to make vipassana broadly available.  In his teaching the focus is on bodily sensations:
  1. Noting the sensations of breathing in and out for hours each day, to build concentration. 
  2. Perform a whole-body scan of whatever sensations are occurring anywhere in the body.  The meditator experiences a sea of shifting sensations and awareness. 
  3. Insight is then developed, which brings the added realization of how we link sensations to the self.  Insight into pain reveals that we build an object out of various continuously shifting sensations and provoked feelings that can become an emotive response of "mine".  Booklets describe how to develop the insights and practice. 
meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
with S. N. Goenka.  As Goleman immersed himself in the practice he observed the transformation of his awareness about his body's sensations.  He became aware of: the additional stages of insight enabled by deep practice of mindfulness is an active meditative state of non-doing, attentively seeking each 'present moment' with one's body and mind 'being' at rest and so cultivating awareness, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn.  Some traditions define it as observing when the mind wanders.  Others use it to refer to the floating awareness that witnesses whatever happens in our experience without judging or otherwise reacting, explain Goleman & Davidson.  The thinking mind usually spends a lot of time relating to the future and past which Kabat-Zinn argues limits its ability to become fully aware of the present.  In times of stress those thoughts are so overpowering that they crowd out awareness and appreciation of the present.  Mindfulness shifts attention to calming internal feelings.  It allows review and prioritization of thoughts as they are recognized.  Major attitude based pillars of successful mindfulness are: impartial to judging, patience, a beginner's mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance of seeing things the way they are and letting go.  An awareness of the body's state can be built with tools including: inquiry, naming; from Yogi's attention to:
  • Breathing - which is a proxy for the environmental situation and through its rhythms is a model of our emotional state.  Attention to breathing reminds people to feel their bodies too.  Belly breathing is particularly relaxing.  
  • Sitting - erect with head, neck and back aligned vertically.  Then attend to breathing moving back to it each time you observe the mind has wandered.  When the body becomes uncomfortable, direct attention to the discomfort, observe and welcome it.  
  • Experience our body - rather than model, judge or hate it relative to an ideal - with a body scan. 
  • Hatha yoga - very slow stretching and strengthening exercises with moment-to-moment awareness supports being in your body.  
  • Walking meditation - Intentionally attend to the immediate experience of walking.  
, and Eurasia's spiritual literature which describes internal liberation from everyday worry, fixation, self-focus, ambivalence, and impulsiveness. 

Goleman noted the contrast with Western clinical psychology's fixation on problems: anxiety is manifested in the amygdala mediating inhibition of dopamine rewards.  Anxiety disorders are now seen as a related cluster, including PTSD, panic attacks, and phobias.  Major anxiety, is typically episodic, correlated with increased activity in the amygdala, results in elevated glucocorticoids and reduces hippocampal dendrite & spine density.  Some estrogen receptor variants are associated with anxiety in women.  Women are four times more likely to suffer from anxiety.  Louann Brizendine concludes this helps prepare mothers, so they are ready to protect their children.  Michael Pollan concludes anxiety is fear of the future.  Sufferers of mild autism often develop anxiety disorders.  Treatments for anxiety differ.  50 to 70% of people with generalized anxiety respond to drugs increasing serotonin concentrations, where there is relief from symptoms: worry, guilt; linked to depression, which are treated with SSRIs (Prozac).  Cognitive anxiety (extreme for worries and anxious thoughts) is also helped by yoga.  But many fear-related disorders respond better to psychotherapy: psychoanalysis, and intensive CBT.  Tara Brach notes that genuine freedom from fear is enabled by taking refuge. 
; and trying to fix them.  He decided to spread the word of his discoveries at Harvard.  Even before his trip to India, Goleman had proposed the existence of a lasting ultra-benign mode of
Consciousness is no longer mysterious.  In this page we use complex adaptive system (CAS) theory to describe the high-level architecture of consciousness, linking sensory networks, low level feelings and genetically conserved and deployed neural structures into a high level scheduler.  Consciousness is evolution's solution to the complex problems of effective, emergent, multi-cellular perception based strategy.  Constrained by emergence and needing to avoid the epistemological problem of starting with a blank slate with every birth, evolution was limited in its options. 

We explain how survival value allows evolution to leverage available tools: sensors, agent relative position, models, perception & representation; to solve the problem of mobile agents responding effectively to their own state and proximate environment.  Evolution did this by providing a genetically constructed framework that can develop into a conscious CAS. 

And we discuss the implications with regard to artificial intelligence, sentient robots, augmented intelligence, and aspects of philosophy. 
consciousness
, reached through meditation.  And now he could tell them he had met the sadhus that potentially embodied his conscious state.  Or was he just wishfully projecting? 

On first meeting, Goleman and Davidson found they had a common goal: to use their dissertation research to document some of the benefits of meditation.  And Davidson had read Goleman's consciousness article.  These ideas were in conflict with the mainstream behaviorist black box approach of psychologists. 

Davidson felt psychology should be looking at the
Computational theory of the mind and evolutionary psychology provide Steven Pinker with a framework on which to develop his psychological arguments about the mind and its relationship to the brain.  Humans captured a cognitive niche by natural selection 'building out' specialized aspects of their bodies and brains resulting in a system of mental organs we call the mind. 

He garnishes and defends the framework with findings from psychology regarding: The visual system - an example of natural selections solutions to the sensory challenges of inverse modeling of our environment; Intensions - where he highlights the challenges of hunter gatherers - making sense of the objects they perceive and predicting what they imply and natural selections powerful solutions; Emotions - which Pinker argues are essential to human prioritizing and decision making; Relationships - natural selection's strategies for coping with the most dangerous competitors, other people.  He helps us understand marriage, friendships and war. 

These conclusions allow him to understand the development and maintenance of higher callings: Art, Music, Literature, Humor, Religion, & Philosophy; and develop a position on the meaning of life. 

Complex adaptive system (CAS) modeling allows RSS to frame Pinker's arguments within humanity's current situation, induced by powerful evolved amplifiers: Globalization, Cliodynamics, The green revolution and resource bottlenecks; melding his powerful predictions of the drivers of human behavior with system wide constraints.  The implications are discussed. 

mind
and the brain.  So he spent his off hours on aspects of the mind: helping with sleep research at the Maimonides Medical Center where he learnt about EEG is electroencephalography, the recording of brain waves.  With 256 electrodes it provides high-quality digital recordings of brain activity with millisecond resolution over the whole head.  It tracks the time course of neural firing.  It complements fMRI.  MEG is considered analogous but even better.  The awake brain emits a variety of frequencies classified in EEGs as alpha (8-13 hertz), beta (13 - 30 Hz), gamma (30 and higher) and theta (5 cycles a second).  Visual stimuli result in enhanced gamma-band activity within 200 milliseconds.  For consciously perceived stimuli it remained sustained while it died out over time for unseen masked stimuli.  Theta band is used by the cortex for long distance messaging.  ; and used his honors thesis to research daydreaming with obesity is an addictive disorder where the brain is induced to require more eating, often because of limits to the number of fat cells available to report satiation (Jul 2016).  Brain images of drug-addicted people and obese people have found similar changes in the brain.  Obese people's reward network tends to be less responsive to dopamine and have a lower density of dopamine receptors.  Obesity spreads like a virus through a social network with a 171% likelihood that a friend of someone who becomes obese will also become so.  Obesity is associated with: metabolic syndrome including inflammation, cancer (Aug 2016), high cholesterol, hypertension, type-2-diabetes, asthma and heart disease.  It is suspected that this is contributing to the increase in maternal deaths in the US (Sep 2016).  Obesity is a complex condition best viewed as representing many different diseases, which is affected by the: Amount of brown adipose tissue (Oct 2016), Asprosin signalling by white adipose tissue (Nov 2016), Genetic alleles including 25 which guarantee an obese outcome, side effects of some pharmaceuticals for: Psychiatric disorders, Diabetes, Seizure, Hypertension, Auto-immunity; Acute diseases: Hypothyroidism, Cushing's syndrome, Hypothalamus disorders; State of the gut microbiome.  Infections, but not antibiotics, appear associated with childhood obesity (Nov 2016). 
.  He used physiological measures: heart rate, sweating; to infer mental processes, which was radical at this time.  This led to an academic post at the State University of New York researching how emotion operates in the brain. 

Goleman couldn't find any teaching post at a university that matched his ideas about consciousness.  So he started to work as a journalist at the New York Times and wrote his book Emotional Intelligence. 

Goleman & Davidson, note their allegiance to the psychology of William James.  He, like them, had concluded there are various discontinuous states of consciousness, and was keen to characterize them.  But the dominant view by 1970, following Freud, was that such states were pathological.  Meditation and drug induced states were classified similarly.  Until growing evidence: neurotransmitters and their effects; began to undermine the mainstream position. 

Davidson, and his wife, went to a ten day retreat with S. N. Goenka, where they practiced vipassana meditation.  Davidson concluded these methods could transform our minds, provide us with control, and produce profound wellbeing.  They both subsequently suffered from stomach infections which undermined the feelings of the retreat. 

Goleman had studied the Visuddhimagga is a fifth-century text, which is still the definitive guidebook for Burmese and Thai Theravada meditators explain Goleman and Davidson.  It provides the fundamental template for insight meditation, popularly called mindfulness.  It details the progression of meditative states to nirvana.  It tells of the need to develop a keenly concentrated mind and sharply mindful awareness.  The practices for both aspects are described:
  • Concentration - starts with focus on breath, or any other point of focus, attention on our natural state reveals the monkey mind, As concentration strengthens wandering thoughts subside, and an observable river of thoughts slows to a still lake.  Sustained focus brings access concentration where attention stays focused on the target - which may be accompanied by feelings of delight and calm.  Jhana first occurs when all distracting thoughts cease and the mind fills with rapture.  There are seven more levels of jhana.  
  • Mindful awareness, looking into the mechanics of consciousness, was a goal of Gautama Buddha, where awareness is left open to whatever arises in the mind, notes what arises and lets it go.  A shift to insight meditation occurs where we see the mind as a set of processes.  Each shift yields more insights into consciousness.  At the highest level strong negative feelings like greed and anger fade away, replaced by traits of equanimity, kindness, compassion and joy. 
while in Bodh Gaya.  It provides the template for practicing mindfulness, progressing to nirvana.  Goleman and Davidson stress the reaching of nirvana takes many years of deep practice and is associated with altered traits reflect changes to four neural pathways that Goleman & Davidson identify in Altered Traits.  These networks support: stress reactions - induced experimentally with the TSST, compassion and empathy, attention, sense of self; and are altered by different types of meditation.  An altered state refers to changes that occur only during meditation.  All meditation has the contemplative goal of altered traits leading to being free of suffering by revealing our Bhudda nature.  An altered trait indicates that the practice of meditation has tranformed the brain so the induced changes are seen before beginning to meditate.  Goleman & Davidson developed a robust behavioral measure for attention: the ability to maintain focus while counting breaths.  The test requires pressing a keyboard's down arrow on each outbreath except on the nineth when a different key is pressed and counting restarts at one.  The objective metric is the difference between the subjective count and the actual number of breaths taken.  

The after is the before for the next during
Goleman used a Social Science Research Council postdoc to study Asian systems for analyzing the mind.  He travelled to Kandy in Sri Lanka to meet with Nyanaponika Thera, who helped him understand the Abhidhamma is a guided theory of meditation practice.  It presents a model of the conscious mind, including a map and methods of transformation: altered traits; of the core being.  It describes a theory where healthy: even-mindedness, composure, ongoing mindfulness, realistic confidence, buoyancy, flexibility, adaptability, pliancy; and unhealthy: desires, self-centeredness, sluggishness, agitation; flows push against and constrain each other.  A meditator in deep concentration suppresses the unhealthy traits.  Deepening levels of insight practice lead to a radical transformation, ultimately freeing the meditator's mind of the unhealthy mix. 
, the theory that supported the praxis of the Visuddhimagga is a fifth-century text, which is still the definitive guidebook for Burmese and Thai Theravada meditators explain Goleman and Davidson.  It provides the fundamental template for insight meditation, popularly called mindfulness.  It details the progression of meditative states to nirvana.  It tells of the need to develop a keenly concentrated mind and sharply mindful awareness.  The practices for both aspects are described:
  • Concentration - starts with focus on breath, or any other point of focus, attention on our natural state reveals the monkey mind, As concentration strengthens wandering thoughts subside, and an observable river of thoughts slows to a still lake.  Sustained focus brings access concentration where attention stays focused on the target - which may be accompanied by feelings of delight and calm.  Jhana first occurs when all distracting thoughts cease and the mind fills with rapture.  There are seven more levels of jhana.  
  • Mindful awareness, looking into the mechanics of consciousness, was a goal of Gautama Buddha, where awareness is left open to whatever arises in the mind, notes what arises and lets it go.  A shift to insight meditation occurs where we see the mind as a set of processes.  Each shift yields more insights into consciousness.  At the highest level strong negative feelings like greed and anger fade away, replaced by traits of equanimity, kindness, compassion and joy. 
.  Goleman saw the theory as a working
The agents in complex adaptive systems (CAS) must model their environment to respond effectively to it.  Evolution's schematic operators and Samuel modeling together support the indirect recording of past successes and their strategic use by the current agent to learn how to succeed in the proximate environment. 
model
of the
Consciousness is no longer mysterious.  In this page we use complex adaptive system (CAS) theory to describe the high-level architecture of consciousness, linking sensory networks, low level feelings and genetically conserved and deployed neural structures into a high level scheduler.  Consciousness is evolution's solution to the complex problems of effective, emergent, multi-cellular perception based strategy.  Constrained by emergence and needing to avoid the epistemological problem of starting with a blank slate with every birth, evolution was limited in its options. 

We explain how survival value allows evolution to leverage available tools: sensors, agent relative position, models, perception & representation; to solve the problem of mobile agents responding effectively to their own state and proximate environment.  Evolution did this by providing a genetically constructed framework that can develop into a conscious CAS. 

And we discuss the implications with regard to artificial intelligence, sentient robots, augmented intelligence, and aspects of philosophy. 
conscious
Computational theory of the mind and evolutionary psychology provide Steven Pinker with a framework on which to develop his psychological arguments about the mind and its relationship to the brain.  Humans captured a cognitive niche by natural selection 'building out' specialized aspects of their bodies and brains resulting in a system of mental organs we call the mind. 

He garnishes and defends the framework with findings from psychology regarding: The visual system - an example of natural selections solutions to the sensory challenges of inverse modeling of our environment; Intensions - where he highlights the challenges of hunter gatherers - making sense of the objects they perceive and predicting what they imply and natural selections powerful solutions; Emotions - which Pinker argues are essential to human prioritizing and decision making; Relationships - natural selection's strategies for coping with the most dangerous competitors, other people.  He helps us understand marriage, friendships and war. 

These conclusions allow him to understand the development and maintenance of higher callings: Art, Music, Literature, Humor, Religion, & Philosophy; and develop a position on the meaning of life. 

Complex adaptive system (CAS) modeling allows RSS to frame Pinker's arguments within humanity's current situation, induced by powerful evolved amplifiers: Globalization, Cliodynamics, The green revolution and resource bottlenecks; melding his powerful predictions of the drivers of human behavior with system wide constraints.  The implications are discussed. 

mind
,
Walter Shewhart's iterative development process is found in many complex adaptive systems (CAS).  The mechanism is reviewed and its value in coping with random events is explained. 
improved iteratively
for centuries.  The mind had healthy and unhealthy traits which inhibited one another.  A meditator immersed in deep concentration could supress the unhealthy traits.  But Goleman realized, deep immursion in insight meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
results in radical transformation, freeing the mind of unhealthy traits.   The Dalai Lama stressed "The true mark of a meditator is that he has disciplined his mind by freeing it of negative emotions are low level fast unconscious agents distributed across the brain and body which associate, via the amygdala and rich club hubs, important environmental signals with encoded high speed sensors, and distributed programs of action to model: predict, prioritize guidance signals, select and respond effectively, coherently and rapidly to the initial signal.  The majority of emotion centered brain regions interface to the midbrain through the hypothalamus.  The cerebellum and basal ganglia support the integration of emotion and motor functions, rewarding rhythmic movement.  The most accessible signs of emotions are the hard to control and universal facial expressions.  Emotions provide prioritization for conscious access given that an animal has only one body, but possibly many cells, with which to achieve its highest level goals.  Because of this, base emotions clash with group goals and are disparaged by the powerful.  Pinker notes a set of group selected emotions which he classes as: other-condemning, other-praising, other-suffering and self-conscious emotions.  Evolutionary psychology argues evolution shaped human emotions during the long period of hunter-gatherer existence in the African savanna.  Human emotions are universal and include: Anger, Appreciation of natural beauty, Contempt, Disgust, Embarrassment, Fear, Gratitude, Grief, Guilt, Happiness, Honor, Jealousy, Liking, Love, Moral awe, Rage, Romantic love, Lust for revenge, Passion, Sadness, Self-control, Shame, Sympathy, Surprise; and the sham emotions and distrust induced by reciprocal altruism. 
." 

Goleman and Davidson developed a shared vision of meditation's altered traits reflect changes to four neural pathways that Goleman & Davidson identify in Altered Traits.  These networks support: stress reactions - induced experimentally with the TSST, compassion and empathy, attention, sense of self; and are altered by different types of meditation.  An altered state refers to changes that occur only during meditation.  All meditation has the contemplative goal of altered traits leading to being free of suffering by revealing our Bhudda nature.  An altered trait indicates that the practice of meditation has tranformed the brain so the induced changes are seen before beginning to meditate.  Goleman & Davidson developed a robust behavioral measure for attention: the ability to maintain focus while counting breaths.  The test requires pressing a keyboard's down arrow on each outbreath except on the nineth when a different key is pressed and counting restarts at one.  The objective metric is the difference between the subjective count and the actual number of breaths taken.  .  But the academic community was unreceptive.  Davidson moved bellow the radar to continue a research science career.  Goleman shifted to journalism. 

In the next twenty years scientific theory caught up.  Rockefeller University's McEwen showed that a submissive rat, kept in close confinement with a dominant rat, will suffer stress is a multi-faceted condition reflecting high cortisol levels.  Dr. Robert Sapolsky's studies of baboons indicate that stress helps build readiness for fight or flight.  As these actions occur the levels of cortisol return to the baseline rate.  A stressor is anything that disrupts the regular homeostatic balance.  The stress response is the array of neural and endocrine changes that occur to respond effectively to the crisis and reestablish homeostasis. 
  • The short term response to the stressor
    • activates the amygdala which: Stimulates the brain stem resulting in inhibition of the parasympathetic nervous system and activation of the sympathetic nervous system with the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine deployed around the body, Activates the PVN which generates a cascade resulting in glucocorticoid secretion to: get energy to the muscles with increased blood pressure for a powerful response.  The brain's acuity and cognition are stimulated.  The immune system is stimulated with beta-endorphin and repair activities curtail.  In order for the body to destroy bacteria in wounds, pro-inflammatory cytokines increase blood flow to the area.  The induced inflammation signals the brain to activate the insula and through it the ACC.  But when the stressor is
  • long term: loneliness, debt; and no action is necessary, or possible, long term damage ensues.  Damage from such stress may only occur in specific situations: Nuclear families coping with parents moving in.  Sustained stress provides an evolved amplifier of a position of dominance and status.  It is a strategy in female aggression used to limit reproductive competition.  Sustained stress:
    • Stops the frontal cortex from ensuring we do the harder thing, instead substituting amplification of the individual's propensity for risk-taking and impairing risk assessment! 
    • Activates the integration between the thalamus and amygdala. 
      • Acts differently on the amygdala in comparison to the frontal cortex and hippocampus: Stress strengthens the integration between the Amygdala and the hippocampus, making the hippocampus fearful. 
      • BLA & BNST respond with increased BDNF levels and expanded dendrites persistently increasing anxiety and fear conditioning. 
    • Makes it easier to learn a fear association and to consolidate it into long-term memory.  Sustained stress makes it harder to unlearn fear by making the prefrontal cortex inhibit the BLA from learning to break the fear association and weakening the prefrontal cortex's hold over the amygdala.  And glucocorticoids decrease activation of the medial prefrontal cortex during processing of emotional faces.  Accuracy of assessing emotions from faces suffers.  A terrified rat generating lots of glucocorticoids will cause dendrites in the hippocampus to atrophy but when it generates the same amount from excitement of running on a wheel the dendrites expand.  The activation of the amygdala seems to determine how the hippocampus responds. 
    • Depletes the nucleus accumbens of dopamine biasing rats toward social subordination and biasing humans toward depression. 
    • Disrupts working memory by amplifying norepinephrine signalling in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala to prefrontal cortex signalling until they become destructive.  It also desynchronizes activation in different frontal lobe regions impacting shifting of attention.  
    • Increases the risk of autoimmune disease (Jan 2017) 
  • During depression, stress inhibits dopamine signalling.  
  • Strategies for stress reduction include: Mindfulness. 
and loose dendrites in the hippocampus is a part of the medial temporal lobe of the brain involved in the temporary storage or coding of long-term episodic memory.  It includes the dentate gyrus.  Memory formation in the cells of the hippocampus uses the MAP kinase signalling network which is impacted by sleep deprivation.  The hippocampus dependent memory system is directly affected by cholinergic changes throughout the wake-sleep cycle.  Increased acetylcholine during REM sleep promotes information attained during wakefulness to be stored in the hippocampus by suppressing previous excitatory connections while facilitating encoding without interference from previously stored information.  During slow-wave sleep low levels of acetylcholine cause the release of the suppression and allow for spontaneous recovery of hippocampal neurons resulting in memory consolidation.  It was initially associated with memory formation by McGill University's Dr. Brenda Milner, via studies of 'HM' Henry Molaison, whose medial temporal lobes had been surgically destroyed leaving him unable to create new explicit memories.  The size of neurons' dendritic trees expands and contracts over a female rat's ovulatory cycle, with the peak in size and cognitive skills at the estrogen high point.  Adult neurogenesis occurs in the hippocampus (3% of neurons are replaced each month) where the new neurons integrate into preexisting circuits.  It is enhanced by learning, exercise, estrogen, antidepressants, environmental enrichment, and brain injury and inhibited by various stressors explains Sapolsky.  Prolonged stress makes the hippocampus atrophy.  He notes the new neurons are essential for integrating new information into preexisting schemas -- learning that two things you thought were the same are actually different.  Specific cells within the hippocampus and its gateway, the entorhinal cortex, are compromised by Alzheimer's disease.  It directly signals area 25. 
.  And conversely Berkeley's Marion Diamond showed that for rats provided with toys, climbing frames, playmates, there was increased dendritic density in the PFC is prefrontal cortex which is:
  • The front part of the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex.  It evolved most recently.  During adolescence when the PFC is still deploying, older brain agents provide equivalent strategies: ventral striatum.  The PFC has been implicated in planning, working memory: dorsolateral; decision making: Orbitofrontal cortex; and social behavior.  It regulates feelings.  Different PFC circuits track internal reward driven strategies and externally signalled advice.  The PFC chooses between conflicting options, letting go or restraint, especially between cognition and emotions.  It imposes an overarching strategy for managing working memory.  It is essential for thinking about multiple items with different labels.  It includes neurons that are interested in particular sub-categories: Dog, Cat.  Once it has made a decision it signals the rest of the frontal lobe just behind it.  Glucocorticoids decrease excitability of the PFC.  
.  Science started to accept neuroplasticity is lasting change to the brain that occurs throughout life.  It is also termed neural plasticity.  The changes include:
  • The strength of dendritic input alters due to genetic, neural and hormonal signals
    • Hebb notes that memories require strengthening of preexisting synapses.  Glutamate responsive neurons' post synaptic dendritic spines have two types of receptor: non-NMDA and NMDA.  NMDA channels are responsible for this strengthening mechanism.  LTP then occurs to prolong the increase in excitability of the synapse. 
    • The LTP operation results in calcium diffusion which triggers new spine formation in adjacent parts of the dendrite.  Eventually that can stimulate dentrite growth enabling more neurons to connect. 
    • Short term stress promotes hippocampal LTP.  
    • Sustained stress promotes:
      • Hippocampal & frontal cortex  LTD & suppresses LTP.  Subsequent reductions in NCAM then reduce dendrite and synapse density. 
      • Amygdala LTP and suppresses LTD boosting fear conditioning.  It increases BDNF levels and expands dendrites in the BLA. 
    • Depression and anxiety reduce hippocampal dendrite and spine number by reducing BDNF. 
  • The axon's conditions for
    • Initiating an action potential. 
      • Progesterone boosts GABA-ergic neurons response to GABA decreasing the excitability of other neurons over a period of hours. 
    • Duration of a neuron's refractory period.  Testosterone shortens the refractory period of amygdala and amygdala target neurons over a period of hours. 
  • Synaptic connections being constantly removed and recreated
  • Synapses being created or destroyed.  Stimulation generates additional dendritic spines which become associated with a nearby axon terminal and within weeks a synapse forms.  The synapse then contributes calcium diffusion through LTP triggering more spine formation.  When dendritic spines recede synapses disappear. 
  • Cortical maps change to reflect alterations in the inputs and outputs from the body. 
  • Birth of brain cells in many areas of adult brains: the hippocampus (where 3% are replaced each month) and olfactory bulb and lesser amounts in the cortex. 
  • Restructuring after brain damage including axonal plasticity.  Distant rerouting of axons is observed but no mechanism has been identified yet. 
  • Vision is plastic in predators, where the eyes are moved during final development.  Dehaene argues for neuronal recycling supporting reading.  
and capture experimental data about it, at least in rats and mice. 

It required the availability of research fMRI is functional magnetic resonance imaging.  Seiji Ogawa leveraged the coupling of neuronal circuit activity and blood flow through the associated glial cells to build a 3 dimensional picture of brain cell activity.  As haemoglobin gives up its oxygen to support the neural activity it becomes magnetic and acts as a signal detected by the fMRI.  fMRI easily visualizes the state of activity in the living human brain at millimeter resolution, up to several times a second but it cannot track the time course of neural firing so it is augmented with EEG.   scanning to see that neuroplasticity applied to humans too.  A natural experiment leveraged by University of Oregon's Helen Neville confirmed it: deaf people sign to each other, and the signing often demands detection in the watcher's peripheral vision.  In the scan it was realized that Heschl's gyrus, from the primary auditory cortex is part of the temporal lobe that processes auditory information.  It is present in both brain hemispheres.  Auditory sensations only reach consciousness once signalled by the auditory cortex.  Final sound processing is performed by the parietal and frontal lobes in humans. 
, had been recruited to support this visual processing.  Neuroplasticity provided a mechanism for meditation to alter traits. 

Goleman and Davidson explain that altered traits fall along a spectrum: PTSD is post-traumatic stress disorder, an induced level of stress that is so troubling to the brain that it avoids processing it, change that is necessary if the stress is to be dissipated by the normal brain processes.  The hippocampus loses volume.  The damage to the hippocampus results in: flashbacks, becoming emotionally numb and withdrawn from other people, irritability, jumpiness, being more aggressive, having trouble sleeping and avoidance of the sensory experiences associated with the initial event.  The amygdala responds to overwhelming trauma by repeatedly grabbing attention to encourage response to the emergency, increases in volume and is hyperactive and anxious.  As a result it remains in a heightened state, resulting in fear of recall and further stress.  PTSD is often accompanied by depression and substance abuse.  It is now being realized that PTSD can be introduced into patients by traumatic treatment regimens such as ICU procedures.  Traumatic head injuries, seen in athletes and soldiers can be reflected in PTSD and can subsequently become associated with prion based dementia.  Some people are genetically predisposed to PTSD, with identical twins responding similarly.  Another risk factor for PTSD is childhood trauma which can induce epi-genetic changes to stress processing.  PTSD can be managed with CBT, and it also responds to propranolol while recalling the traumatic event, where the drug undermines the memory reconsolidation process. 
, empathetically is the capability to relate to another person from their perspective.  It is implemented by spindle neurons.  Empathy towards others is controlled by the right-hemisphere supramarginal gyrus.  Empathy is context dependently mediated by estrogen.  It develops over time: Piaget's preoperational stage includes rudimentary empathy, Theory of mind supports the development; initially feeling someone's pain as one integrated being, then for them and eventually as them.  In adults, when someone else is hurt the anterior cingulate cortex, amygdala & insula activates projecting [scapegoating] to the vmPFC.  If the pain is physical the PAG activates and motor neurons for the area where the other person was injured.  The intertwining of the ACC amygdala & insula in adults results in attribution of fault even when there is none which can make it hard to step in and actually help.  But in seven-year-olds the activation is concrete: PAG and sensory & motor cortexes with minimal coupling to the rudimentary vmPFC.  In older children the vmPFC is coupled to limbic structures.  Ten to twelve year olds abstract empathy to classes of people.  Brizendine asserts young girls develop empathy earlier than boys, because their evolved greater neuronal investment in communication and emotion networks.  Year old girls are much more responsive to the distress of other people than boys are.  At 18 months girls are experiencing infantile puberty.  By adolescence the vmPFC is coupled to theory of mind regions and intentional harm induces disgust via the amygdala.  Sapolsky explains adolescent boys are utilitarian and tend to accept inequality more than girls do.  But both sexes accept inequality as the way it is.  Sociopaths do not develop empathy.   raised child when upset calms down quickly, Yogi after years of deep meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
displays compassion indicates an emotional state where resonance with someone else's distress leads one to help them.  The Dalai Lama stresses we must feel compassion for ourselves and others.  Tara Brach sees compassion as our capacity to relate in a tender and sympathetic way to what we perceive.  Meditation focused on feeling love for the suffering, strengthens compassion by activating the neuron networks for parental love for a child: ACC, insula, striatum, PAG, orbitofrontal cortex; and inducing a reduction in areas responsible for negative emotions. 
and equanimity; with neuroplasticity is lasting change to the brain that occurs throughout life.  It is also termed neural plasticity.  The changes include:
  • The strength of dendritic input alters due to genetic, neural and hormonal signals
    • Hebb notes that memories require strengthening of preexisting synapses.  Glutamate responsive neurons' post synaptic dendritic spines have two types of receptor: non-NMDA and NMDA.  NMDA channels are responsible for this strengthening mechanism.  LTP then occurs to prolong the increase in excitability of the synapse. 
    • The LTP operation results in calcium diffusion which triggers new spine formation in adjacent parts of the dendrite.  Eventually that can stimulate dentrite growth enabling more neurons to connect. 
    • Short term stress promotes hippocampal LTP.  
    • Sustained stress promotes:
      • Hippocampal & frontal cortex  LTD & suppresses LTP.  Subsequent reductions in NCAM then reduce dendrite and synapse density. 
      • Amygdala LTP and suppresses LTD boosting fear conditioning.  It increases BDNF levels and expands dendrites in the BLA. 
    • Depression and anxiety reduce hippocampal dendrite and spine number by reducing BDNF. 
  • The axon's conditions for
    • Initiating an action potential. 
      • Progesterone boosts GABA-ergic neurons response to GABA decreasing the excitability of other neurons over a period of hours. 
    • Duration of a neuron's refractory period.  Testosterone shortens the refractory period of amygdala and amygdala target neurons over a period of hours. 
  • Synaptic connections being constantly removed and recreated
  • Synapses being created or destroyed.  Stimulation generates additional dendritic spines which become associated with a nearby axon terminal and within weeks a synapse forms.  The synapse then contributes calcium diffusion through LTP triggering more spine formation.  When dendritic spines recede synapses disappear. 
  • Cortical maps change to reflect alterations in the inputs and outputs from the body. 
  • Birth of brain cells in many areas of adult brains: the hippocampus (where 3% are replaced each month) and olfactory bulb and lesser amounts in the cortex. 
  • Restructuring after brain damage including axonal plasticity.  Distant rerouting of axons is observed but no mechanism has been identified yet. 
  • Vision is plastic in predators, where the eyes are moved during final development.  Dehaene argues for neuronal recycling supporting reading.  
providing the scientific basis implemented through repeated meditation. 

Goleman and Davidson link Eastern and Western philosophy through Alexander the Great's meeting with the Taxila ascetic yogi's in present day Kashmir.  This brought Aristotle's ideas, as coach to Alexander, and the yogi's ideas into contact.  Goleman & Davidson note how flourishing is Aristotle's goal of life.  Goleman & Davidson note University of Wisconsin's Carol Ryff sees this including:
  • Self-acceptance, being positive about yourself, acknowleding your best and not-so-good qualities, and feeling fine about being just as you are.  This takes a nonjudgmental self-awareness.
  • Personal growth, the sense you continue to change and develop towards your full potential. 
  • Autonomy, important in Western culture, is independence of thought and deed, freedom from social pressure, and using your own standards to measure yourself.  
  • Mastery, feeling competent to handle life's complexities, seizing opportunities as they come your way, and creating situations that suit your needs and values. 
  • Satisfying relationships, with warmth, empathy, and trust, along with mutual concern for each other and a healthy give-and-take. 
  • Life purpose, goals and beliefs that give you a sense of meaning and direction.  Some philosophers argue that true happiness comes as a by-product of meaning and purpose in life. 
seems supported by meditation, but lament there is little scientific evidence to substantiate this view.  In part that is because of the difficulty of researching meditation

The Best We Had
Goleman & Davidson illustrate the challenge of studying meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
scientifically.  They note a variety of problems:
Davidson's lab adopted strategies to reduce the impact of these problems:
  • Replicate other lab's experiments
  • Employ meditation skeptics
  • Use active controls including HEP.  
  • Define the meditative technique being used, study it with hard sensors, and record the lifetime hours spent - differentiated by: type of technique, retreat or alone, coached or not.  Davidson's lab differentiates among yogis studied and sees effects. 

A Mind Undisturbed
Goleman & Davidson explain that a major goal of all meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
practices is "a mind undisturbed."

Goleman & Davidson note the modern shift towards long term psychologically driven stress is a multi-faceted condition reflecting high cortisol levels.  Dr. Robert Sapolsky's studies of baboons indicate that stress helps build readiness for fight or flight.  As these actions occur the levels of cortisol return to the baseline rate.  A stressor is anything that disrupts the regular homeostatic balance.  The stress response is the array of neural and endocrine changes that occur to respond effectively to the crisis and reestablish homeostasis. 
  • The short term response to the stressor
    • activates the amygdala which: Stimulates the brain stem resulting in inhibition of the parasympathetic nervous system and activation of the sympathetic nervous system with the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine deployed around the body, Activates the PVN which generates a cascade resulting in glucocorticoid secretion to: get energy to the muscles with increased blood pressure for a powerful response.  The brain's acuity and cognition are stimulated.  The immune system is stimulated with beta-endorphin and repair activities curtail.  In order for the body to destroy bacteria in wounds, pro-inflammatory cytokines increase blood flow to the area.  The induced inflammation signals the brain to activate the insula and through it the ACC.  But when the stressor is
  • long term: loneliness, debt; and no action is necessary, or possible, long term damage ensues.  Damage from such stress may only occur in specific situations: Nuclear families coping with parents moving in.  Sustained stress provides an evolved amplifier of a position of dominance and status.  It is a strategy in female aggression used to limit reproductive competition.  Sustained stress:
    • Stops the frontal cortex from ensuring we do the harder thing, instead substituting amplification of the individual's propensity for risk-taking and impairing risk assessment! 
    • Activates the integration between the thalamus and amygdala. 
      • Acts differently on the amygdala in comparison to the frontal cortex and hippocampus: Stress strengthens the integration between the Amygdala and the hippocampus, making the hippocampus fearful. 
      • BLA & BNST respond with increased BDNF levels and expanded dendrites persistently increasing anxiety and fear conditioning. 
    • Makes it easier to learn a fear association and to consolidate it into long-term memory.  Sustained stress makes it harder to unlearn fear by making the prefrontal cortex inhibit the BLA from learning to break the fear association and weakening the prefrontal cortex's hold over the amygdala.  And glucocorticoids decrease activation of the medial prefrontal cortex during processing of emotional faces.  Accuracy of assessing emotions from faces suffers.  A terrified rat generating lots of glucocorticoids will cause dendrites in the hippocampus to atrophy but when it generates the same amount from excitement of running on a wheel the dendrites expand.  The activation of the amygdala seems to determine how the hippocampus responds. 
    • Depletes the nucleus accumbens of dopamine biasing rats toward social subordination and biasing humans toward depression. 
    • Disrupts working memory by amplifying norepinephrine signalling in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala to prefrontal cortex signalling until they become destructive.  It also desynchronizes activation in different frontal lobe regions impacting shifting of attention.  
    • Increases the risk of autoimmune disease (Jan 2017) 
  • During depression, stress inhibits dopamine signalling.  
  • Strategies for stress reduction include: Mindfulness. 
, where our PFC is prefrontal cortex which is:
  • The front part of the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex.  It evolved most recently.  During adolescence when the PFC is still deploying, older brain agents provide equivalent strategies: ventral striatum.  The PFC has been implicated in planning, working memory: dorsolateral; decision making: Orbitofrontal cortex; and social behavior.  It regulates feelings.  Different PFC circuits track internal reward driven strategies and externally signalled advice.  The PFC chooses between conflicting options, letting go or restraint, especially between cognition and emotions.  It imposes an overarching strategy for managing working memory.  It is essential for thinking about multiple items with different labels.  It includes neurons that are interested in particular sub-categories: Dog, Cat.  Once it has made a decision it signals the rest of the frontal lobe just behind it.  Glucocorticoids decrease excitability of the PFC.  
can anticipate the future, and worry about it!  This leaves the brain damaged by cortisol is a glucocorticoid produced in the adrenal cortex of the adrenal glands.  It:
  • Stimulates
    • Gluconeogenesis to increase production of blood sugar
    • Metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates
  • Suppresses the immune system.  
  • Decreases bone formation
  • In excessive concentrations destroy synaptic connections in the: hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex; leading to flattened emotions and impaired memory. 
, and the body no time to recover and more vulnerable to heart disease is cardiovascular disease which refers to:
  • Conditions where narrowed and blocked blood vessels result in angina, hypertension, CHD and heart attacks and hemorrhagic/ischemic strokes.  Mutations of the gene PCSK9 have been implicated in cardiovascular disease.  Rare families with dominant inheritence of the mutations have an overactive protein, very high levels of blood cholesterol and cardiac disease. Other rare PCSK9 mutations result in an 88% reduced risk from heart disease.  Inflammation is associated with cardiovascular disease (Aug 2017). 
, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, limb amputations and kidney failure.  It is a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.  Insulin and glucose levels are regulated by the pancreas, liver, muscle, brain and fat.  Diabetes occurs when the insulin level is insufficient to regulate the glucose in the system.  As we age our muscles become less sensitive to insulin and the pancreas responds by increasing the amount generated.  Increased fat levels in obesity demand more insulin overloading the pancreas.  Persistent high glucose levels are also toxic to the pancreas beta cells.  High glucocorticoid levels have been associated with type 2 diabetes.  There are genetic risk factors since siblings of someone with the disease have three times the baseline risk (about 50% of the risk of getting type 2 diabetes is genetic).  The inheritance is polygenic.  More than 20 genes have been identified as risk factors, but that is too few to account for the 50% weighting so many more will be identified.  Of those identified so far many are associated with the beta cells.  The one with the strongest relative risk is TCF7L2.  The disease can be effectively controlled through a diligent application of treatments and regular checkups.  Doctors are monitored for how under control their patients' diabetes is (Sep 2015).  Treatments include:
  • Metformin - does not change the course of pre-diabetes - if you stop taking it, it is as if it hasn't been taken. 
  • Diet
  • Exercise
and hypertension is high blood pressure.  It is directly associated with death rate due to pressure induced damage to the left ventricle and in general to cardiovascular diseases.  Treated with antihypertensives: Diuretics, Calcium channel blockers, Angiotensin receptor blockers or Beta blockers.  

While studying at Harvard they got to know Jon Kabot-Zinn, who was exploring meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
and yoga.  He helped them study Swami X and practiced at Insight Meditation Society retreats.  He had been taught rigorous vipassana means 'to see clearly' in Pali.  It is the foundational mindfulness (Theravadan) meditation.  It aims to allow the stream of experience to move through attention.  S. N. Goenka aimed to make vipassana broadly available.  In his teaching the focus is on bodily sensations:
  1. Noting the sensations of breathing in and out for hours each day, to build concentration. 
  2. Perform a whole-body scan of whatever sensations are occurring anywhere in the body.  The meditator experiences a sea of shifting sensations and awareness. 
  3. Insight is then developed, which brings the added realization of how we link sensations to the self.  Insight into pain reveals that we build an object out of various continuously shifting sensations and provoked feelings that can become an emotive response of "mine".  Booklets describe how to develop the insights and practice. 
meditation by Robert Hover, which included several two-hour sessions where the students were asked to sit totally still while performing a body scan is a mindfulness meditation exercise where the attention is moved around the body noticing the sensations of the visited part.  At the same time the brain models the visited part participating in flows in and out of the body with tensions and pain signals flowing out.  Move the mind to each part and feel it.  Breath in to and out from each region.  Imagine breathing in vitality and relaxation on each in breath.  Imagine the tensions are exhailed with the out breath.  As you let go of the sensations the muscles also let go of tensions.  First from the toes of the left foot to the pelvis and then the right foot to the pelvis.  From there move up through the torso, lower back and abdomen, upper back and chest, sholders.  Then from the fingers of both hands move simultaneously up both arms returning to the shoulders.  Then move through the neck and throat, all regions of the face, back of the head and top of the head to an imaginary hole at the top of the head where we release our breath. 
.  Kabot-Zinn was thus introduced to excruciating pain emerged as a mental experience, Damasio asserts, constructed by the mind using mapping structures and events provided by nervous systems.  But feeling pain is supported by older biological functions that support homeostasis.  These capabilities reflect the organism's underlying emotive processes that respond to wounds: antibacterial and analgesic chemical deployment, flinching and evading actions; that occur in organisms without nervous systems.  Later in evolution, after organisms with nervous systems were able to map non-neural events, the components of this complex response were 'imageable'.  Today, a wound induced by an internal disease is reported by old, unmyelinated C nerve fibers.  A wound created by an external cut is signalled by evolutionarily recent myelinated fibers that result in a sharp well-localized report, that initially flows to the dorsal root ganglia, then to the spinal cord, where the signals are mixed within the dorsal and ventral horns, and then are transmitted to the brain stem nuclei, thalamus and cerebral cortex.  The pain of a cut is located, but it is also felt through an emotive response that stops us in our tracks.  Pain amplifies the aggression response of people by interoceptive signalling of brain regions providing social emotions including the PAG projecting to the amygdala; making aggressive people more so and less aggressive people less so.  Fear of pain is a significant contributor to female anxiety.  Pain is the main reason people visit the ED in the US.  Pain is mediated by the thalamus and nucleus accumbens, unless undermined by sleep deprivation. 
, but realized that as he focused attention is the mutli-faceted capability allowing access to consciousness.  It includes selective attention, vigilance, allocating attention, goal focus, and meta-awareness. 
on the pain it dissolved into sensations, and the emotive response is according to Damasio, a process including a collection of actions: release of specific chemicals in sites of the CNS or their transport, by neural signalling to varied regions of the nervous system and body.  Endocrine glands are signalled and produce molecules capable of altering body function; altering viscera, that changes the homeostatic state of the organism, and may change the spontaneous feelings too.  A cascade of spontaneous homeostatic changes: metabolism, nervous system, immune response, mind builds 'images'; becomes an ensemble of actions each represented in the mind, summarized as a provoked feeling.  Attention to the feelings varies depending on the current state of the mind.  Emotive responses are generated non consciously by specific nuclei in the brain:
  • Hypothalamic nuclei
  • PAG
  • Amygdala nuclei and nucleus accumbens; each nuclei activated by particular streams of signals, from the senses or memory, enabling responses to vast numbers of sensations, objects and circumstances with drives, motivations and emotions. 
was gone.  He imagined helping sufferers of chronic pain with meditation.  As his experience broadened he designed a Westernized meditation customized for these patients: MBSR is mindfulness-based stress reduction.  Jon Kabat-Zinn developed the stress reduction clinic where techniques are taught to develop mindfulness and integrate it and a personal vision of success into every day experience.  In Kabat-Zinn's book Full Catastrophe Living a model of stress is described that allows stressful events to be coped with effectively.  Strategies are described for a wide variety of specific situations including medical symptoms, physical and emotional pain, anxiety and panic, time pressures, relationships, work, food, and external events.  .  Scientific studies probing with fMRI is functional magnetic resonance imaging.  Seiji Ogawa leveraged the coupling of neuronal circuit activity and blood flow through the associated glial cells to build a 3 dimensional picture of brain cell activity.  As haemoglobin gives up its oxygen to support the neural activity it becomes magnetic and acts as a signal detected by the fMRI.  fMRI easily visualizes the state of activity in the living human brain at millimeter resolution, up to several times a second but it cannot track the time course of neural firing so it is augmented with EEG.   confirmed that MBSR was beneficial for managing stress. 

Alan Wallace, an interpreter for the Dalai Lama, developed Mindful Attention Training, is Alan Wallace's meditation program, leveraged from Tibetan practice, starting with full focus on breath, progressively refines attention to observe the natural flow of the stream of thoughts, and then rests in the meta-awareness of awareness. 
to make Tibetan awareness meditation accessible to Americans.  This practice has been studied at Emory, where three groups were trained for eight weeks in either: Mindful Attention Training, compassion indicates an emotional state where resonance with someone else's distress leads one to help them.  The Dalai Lama stresses we must feel compassion for ourselves and others.  Tara Brach sees compassion as our capacity to relate in a tender and sympathetic way to what we perceive.  Meditation focused on feeling love for the suffering, strengthens compassion by activating the neuron networks for parental love for a child: ACC, insula, striatum, PAG, orbitofrontal cortex; and inducing a reduction in areas responsible for negative emotions. 
meditation, discussions on health (active control); and the subjects were fMRI scanned before, and after the eight weeks.  During the scans the participants viewed images including some stress inducing ones.  The Mindful Attention Training group had reduced amygdala contains > 12 distinct areas: Central, Lateral.  It receives simple signals from the lower parts of the brain: pain from the PAG; and abstract complex information from the highest areas: Disgust, heart rate, and suffering from the insula cortex, allowing it to orchestrate emotion.  It connects strongly to attention focusing networks.  It sends signals to almost every other part of the brain, including to the decision making circuitry of the frontal lobes.  It has high levels of D(1) dopamine receptors.  During extreme fear the amygdala drives the hippocampus into fear learning.  It outputs directly to subcortical reflexive motor pathways when speed is required.  Its central nucleus projects to the BNST.  It signals the locus ceruleus.  It directly signals area 25.  The amygdala:
  • Promotes aggression.  Stimulating the amygdala promotes rage.  It converts anger into aggression and when impaired it impacts the ability to detect angry facial expressions.  
  • Participates in disgust
  • Perceives fear promoting stimuli, focusing our attention on these.  In PTSD sufferers the Amygdala overreacts to mildly fearful stimuli and is slow to calm down and the amygdala expands in size over a period of months.  Fear is processed by the lateral nucleus which serves as the input from various senses, and the central nucleus which outputs to the brain stem (central grey - freezing, lateral hypothalamus - blood pressure, activates paraventricular hypothalamus => crf -> hormone adjustments). 
  • Has lots of receptors for and is highly sensitive to glucocorticoids.  Stress inhibits the GABA interneurons in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) allowing the excitatory glutamate releasing neurons to excite more. 
  • Is sensitive to unsettling/uncertain social situations where it promotes anxiety and makes us distracted.  It is also interested in uncertain but potentially painful situations.  The amygdala contributes to social and emotional decision making where the BLA supports rejecting an unacceptable offer, as allowed in the Ultimatum Game, by injecting implicit mistrust and vigilance, generating an anger driven rejection that is used as punishment.  The amygdala is very rapidly excited by subliminal signals from the thalamus of outgroup skin color.  The amygdala subsequently tips social emotions against outgroups unless restrained by the frontal lobe or influenced by subliminal priming to prioritize inclusion.  The fast path from the thalamus rapidly but inaccurately signals its identified a weapon. 
  • Sees suffering of others as increasingly salient with loving-kindness meditation practice, Goleman & Davidson explain. 
  • Promotes male, but not female, sexual motivation when it is an uncertain potential pleasure. 
  • Responds to the longing for uncertain potential pleasures and fear that the reward will not be worth it if it happens.  The amygdala turns off during orgasm. 
  • Uses but is not directly involved in vision.  
activity when viewing the disturbing pictures.  Goleman & Davidson note that the changes occurred in the baseline state of the study indicating a trait change reflect changes to four neural pathways that Goleman & Davidson identify in Altered Traits.  These networks support: stress reactions - induced experimentally with the TSST, compassion and empathy, attention, sense of self; and are altered by different types of meditation.  An altered state refers to changes that occur only during meditation.  All meditation has the contemplative goal of altered traits leading to being free of suffering by revealing our Bhudda nature.  An altered trait indicates that the practice of meditation has tranformed the brain so the induced changes are seen before beginning to meditate.  Goleman & Davidson developed a robust behavioral measure for attention: the ability to maintain focus while counting breaths.  The test requires pressing a keyboard's down arrow on each outbreath except on the nineth when a different key is pressed and counting restarts at one.  The objective metric is the difference between the subjective count and the actual number of breaths taken.  

Pain can be studied experimentally with the Medoc thermal stimulator assesses the maximum pain threshold of the subject.  It is used by neurologists to assess conditions like neuropathy.  A tank of boiling water is used to send a flow of heat through a hose to a two-inch square metal plate strapped to the subject's wrist.  The plate heats up and the subject feels warmth and then pain.  The device has built-in safety constraints so the subject will not be burned.  But it calibrates precisely their maximum pain threshold. 


Meditation may mute the emotional response is according to Damasio, a process including a collection of actions: release of specific chemicals in sites of the CNS or their transport, by neural signalling to varied regions of the nervous system and body.  Endocrine glands are signalled and produce molecules capable of altering body function; altering viscera, that changes the homeostatic state of the organism, and may change the spontaneous feelings too.  A cascade of spontaneous homeostatic changes: metabolism, nervous system, immune response, mind builds 'images'; becomes an ensemble of actions each represented in the mind, summarized as a provoked feeling.  Attention to the feelings varies depending on the current state of the mind.  Emotive responses are generated non consciously by specific nuclei in the brain:
  • Hypothalamic nuclei
  • PAG
  • Amygdala nuclei and nucleus accumbens; each nuclei activated by particular streams of signals, from the senses or memory, enabling responses to vast numbers of sensations, objects and circumstances with drives, motivations and emotions. 
to pain making the sensations more bearable.  In a pain study with experienced zazen meditators, who were asked not to meditate, they had their brains scanned by fMRI as their pain threshold was measured.   The experienced meditators coped with more pain than the controls and had little activity in their executive, evaluative and emotion areas, disconnecting executive and sensing circuits.  The Zen meditators used a no-appraisal neural strategy. 

Goleman & Davidson contrast the Zen meditators with sufferers of PTSD is post-traumatic stress disorder, an induced level of stress that is so troubling to the brain that it avoids processing it, change that is necessary if the stress is to be dissipated by the normal brain processes.  The hippocampus loses volume.  The damage to the hippocampus results in: flashbacks, becoming emotionally numb and withdrawn from other people, irritability, jumpiness, being more aggressive, having trouble sleeping and avoidance of the sensory experiences associated with the initial event.  The amygdala responds to overwhelming trauma by repeatedly grabbing attention to encourage response to the emergency, increases in volume and is hyperactive and anxious.  As a result it remains in a heightened state, resulting in fear of recall and further stress.  PTSD is often accompanied by depression and substance abuse.  It is now being realized that PTSD can be introduced into patients by traumatic treatment regimens such as ICU procedures.  Traumatic head injuries, seen in athletes and soldiers can be reflected in PTSD and can subsequently become associated with prion based dementia.  Some people are genetically predisposed to PTSD, with identical twins responding similarly.  Another risk factor for PTSD is childhood trauma which can induce epi-genetic changes to stress processing.  PTSD can be managed with CBT, and it also responds to propranolol while recalling the traumatic event, where the drug undermines the memory reconsolidation process. 
and burnout.  Neither of these latter groups can halt their brain's stress response.  Can meditation help make people more resilient?  Davidson's lab collaborated with Carol Ryff's research group looking at midlife.  They concluded that a person's sense of purpose was associated with fast recovery from a lab stressor. 

Cliff Saron ran a longitudinal study, demonstrating causation, of students participating in a three-month training in classic meditation styles: mindfulness of breathing; where they meditated for more than five hours a day for ninety days.  They took a set of tests before, in the middle, at the end of the retreat, and five months after the retreat.  His comparison group was people signed up for the next retreat.  The tests included viewing lines of different lengths (one in ten was shorter) presented in rapid succession.  A button was to be pressed when they detected a shorter line.  The subjects had to resist pressing the button for a long line.  As the retreat progressed, constraining this impulse improved.  And the skill was correlated with reduced anxiety is manifested in the amygdala mediating inhibition of dopamine rewards.  Anxiety disorders are now seen as a related cluster, including PTSD, panic attacks, and phobias.  Major anxiety, is typically episodic, correlated with increased activity in the amygdala, results in elevated glucocorticoids and reduces hippocampal dendrite & spine density.  Some estrogen receptor variants are associated with anxiety in women.  Women are four times more likely to suffer from anxiety.  Louann Brizendine concludes this helps prepare mothers, so they are ready to protect their children.  Michael Pollan concludes anxiety is fear of the future.  Sufferers of mild autism often develop anxiety disorders.  Treatments for anxiety differ.  50 to 70% of people with generalized anxiety respond to drugs increasing serotonin concentrations, where there is relief from symptoms: worry, guilt; linked to depression, which are treated with SSRIs (Prozac).  Cognitive anxiety (extreme for worries and anxious thoughts) is also helped by yoga.  But many fear-related disorders respond better to psychotherapy: psychoanalysis, and intensive CBT.  Tara Brach notes that genuine freedom from fear is enabled by taking refuge. 
, improved sense of wellbeing indicates the state of an organism is within homeostatic balance.  It is described by Angus Deaton as all the things that are good for a person:
  • Material wellbeing includes income and wealth and its measures: GDP, personal income and consumption.  It can be traded for goods and services which recapture time.  Material wellbeing depends on investments in:
    • Infrastructure
      • Physical
      • Property rights, contracts and dispute resolution
    • People and their education
    • Capturing of basic knowledge via science.  
    • Engineering to turn science into goods and services and then continuously improve them. 
  • Physical and psychological wellbeing are represented by health and happiness; and education and the ability to participate in civil society through democracy and the rule of law.  University of Wisconsin's Ryff focuses on Aristotle's flourishing.  Life expectancy as a measure of population health, highly weights reductions in child mortality. 
, and less impulsivity; but only for the meditators.  And the trait was still present five months later. 

Wallace and Paul Ekman used TSST is the Trier Social Stress Test, a highly reliable way to trigger the amygdala, thalamus, PVN, BLA, BNST and other stress participating nodes in the brain, to generate a cascade of stress hormones: cortisol.  Goleman & Davidson explain 'it delivers a huge dose of social stress, the awful feelings we get when other people evaluate, reject or exclude us.'  The test has two parts:
  1. Two interviewers glare at you as you describe your qualifications for a job. 
  2. The two interviewers require you to perform mental arithmetic: subtracting 13s from a large number, tell you to go faster, make you start from the beginning each time you get the result wrong.  
as a stressor of a group of schoolteachers.  The more hours that the stressed teachers practiced meditation the faster their blood pressure recovered.  This remained true five months after the program ended suggesting a trait change. 

Davidson's lab applied the TSST, and a test for inflammation, to vipassana meditators with average of 9,000 hours, and to a matched control group.  The meditators had a smaller rise in cortisol, and perceived the TSST as less stressful.  These same long-term meditators were also scanned while they viewed disturbing images of suffering, showing a relatively reduced level of reactivity.  Their brains had strong operative connections between the PFC and the amygdala, unlike typical MBSR beginner meditators. 

Among the benefits of long-term meditation is rapid recovery of the amygdala to stress - a mind undisturbed. 

Primed for love
Hermits and Yogis are Goleman and Davidson's exemplars of compassion indicates an emotional state where resonance with someone else's distress leads one to help them.  The Dalai Lama stresses we must feel compassion for ourselves and others.  Tara Brach sees compassion as our capacity to relate in a tender and sympathetic way to what we perceive.  Meditation focused on feeling love for the suffering, strengthens compassion by activating the neuron networks for parental love for a child: ACC, insula, striatum, PAG, orbitofrontal cortex; and inducing a reduction in areas responsible for negative emotions. 
: selfless, generous, isolated; focused on meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
.  They note the similar disciplines, customs, and meditative practices these people perform. 

Sharon Salzberg brought S.N. Goenka's metta, a form of loving-kindness meditation practices holding tender, compassionate, feelings towards a slowly widening circle of people: family we love, friends, people we don't know, people we dislike, every person; recognizing the oneness, where everyone desires happiness.  Goleman & Davidson describe the neuroscience involved with this mediation.  Research comparing two groups: one practicing loving-kindness meditation, the other acting as a control group just learning the theory; only the meditators showed a reduced implicit bias against out-groups.  They also studied masters - Tibetan yogis. 
to the West from Burma.  During a conversation the Dalai Lama noted that in Tibetan, Pali and Sanskrit compassion applies to oneself and others.  In English it does not apply to the self.  But it is important not to be self-critical, to not see failures and mistakes as personal failings, and to accept your own imperfections.  

Compassion for self and others is not easy to achieve, undermined by the situation:

Brain research indicates there are multiple types of empathy is the capability to relate to another person from their perspective.  It is implemented by spindle neurons.  Empathy towards others is controlled by the right-hemisphere supramarginal gyrus.  Empathy is context dependently mediated by estrogen.  It develops over time: Piaget's preoperational stage includes rudimentary empathy, Theory of mind supports the development; initially feeling someone's pain as one integrated being, then for them and eventually as them.  In adults, when someone else is hurt the anterior cingulate cortex, amygdala & insula activates projecting [scapegoating] to the vmPFC.  If the pain is physical the PAG activates and motor neurons for the area where the other person was injured.  The intertwining of the ACC amygdala & insula in adults results in attribution of fault even when there is none which can make it hard to step in and actually help.  But in seven-year-olds the activation is concrete: PAG and sensory & motor cortexes with minimal coupling to the rudimentary vmPFC.  In older children the vmPFC is coupled to limbic structures.  Ten to twelve year olds abstract empathy to classes of people.  Brizendine asserts young girls develop empathy earlier than boys, because their evolved greater neuronal investment in communication and emotion networks.  Year old girls are much more responsive to the distress of other people than boys are.  At 18 months girls are experiencing infantile puberty.  By adolescence the vmPFC is coupled to theory of mind regions and intentional harm induces disgust via the amygdala.  Sapolsky explains adolescent boys are utilitarian and tend to accept inequality more than girls do.  But both sexes accept inequality as the way it is.  Sociopaths do not develop empathy.  : cognitive, emotional, caring; loving-kindness meditation practices holding tender, compassionate, feelings towards a slowly widening circle of people: family we love, friends, people we don't know, people we dislike, every person; recognizing the oneness, where everyone desires happiness.  Goleman & Davidson describe the neuroscience involved with this mediation.  Research comparing two groups: one practicing loving-kindness meditation, the other acting as a control group just learning the theory; only the meditators showed a reduced implicit bias against out-groups.  They also studied masters - Tibetan yogis. 
builds empathic is the capability to relate to another person from their perspective.  It is implemented by spindle neurons.  Empathy towards others is controlled by the right-hemisphere supramarginal gyrus.  Empathy is context dependently mediated by estrogen.  It develops over time: Piaget's preoperational stage includes rudimentary empathy, Theory of mind supports the development; initially feeling someone's pain as one integrated being, then for them and eventually as them.  In adults, when someone else is hurt the anterior cingulate cortex, amygdala & insula activates projecting [scapegoating] to the vmPFC.  If the pain is physical the PAG activates and motor neurons for the area where the other person was injured.  The intertwining of the ACC amygdala & insula in adults results in attribution of fault even when there is none which can make it hard to step in and actually help.  But in seven-year-olds the activation is concrete: PAG and sensory & motor cortexes with minimal coupling to the rudimentary vmPFC.  In older children the vmPFC is coupled to limbic structures.  Ten to twelve year olds abstract empathy to classes of people.  Brizendine asserts young girls develop empathy earlier than boys, because their evolved greater neuronal investment in communication and emotion networks.  Year old girls are much more responsive to the distress of other people than boys are.  At 18 months girls are experiencing infantile puberty.  By adolescence the vmPFC is coupled to theory of mind regions and intentional harm induces disgust via the amygdala.  Sapolsky explains adolescent boys are utilitarian and tend to accept inequality more than girls do.  But both sexes accept inequality as the way it is.  Sociopaths do not develop empathy.   caring as we observe what is happening without turning away.  Loving-kindness meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
was found to shift activation from an empathy oriented neuron network centered on the insula is part of the cerebral cortex folded deep within the lateral sulcus.  It includes: anterior, posterior insula; and is overlaid by the operculum.  Kandel notes the anterior insula is where feelings are calibrated by evaluating and integrating the importance of the stimuli.  It directly signals area 25.  LeDoux showed there are two routes for signals of feelings and emotions to the amygdala: a fast unconscious one and a slow one that involves the anterior insula.  So the insula is assumed to participate in consciousness where it has been linked to emotion, salience & body homeostasis functions:
  • Perception,
  • Motor control: Hand-&-eye motor movement, Swallowing, Gastric motility, Speech articulation;
  • Self-awareness,
  • Inter-personal experiences: Disgust at smells, contamination & mutilation which generate visceral responses, that are projected to the amygdala; binding physical and moral aspects of purity (Macbeth effect)
    • Suffering of others can be projected by the insula to the amygdala and made increasingly salient with loving-kindness meditation practice, Goleman & Davidson explain. 
  • Homeostatic regulation of the sympathetic network, parasympathetic network, and immune system.  Heart rate and sweat gland activity are monitored.   When the amygdala signals concern, the insula prepares the body for action, increasing blood flow to the muscles etc.
, to a compassion indicates an emotional state where resonance with someone else's distress leads one to help them.  The Dalai Lama stresses we must feel compassion for ourselves and others.  Tara Brach sees compassion as our capacity to relate in a tender and sympathetic way to what we perceive.  Meditation focused on feeling love for the suffering, strengthens compassion by activating the neuron networks for parental love for a child: ACC, insula, striatum, PAG, orbitofrontal cortex; and inducing a reduction in areas responsible for negative emotions. 
network responsible for parental love of a child, supporting warmth, love is an emotion, which generates a feeling of pleasure at a genetic relative's well-being and pain in their harm.  An inseminated human female is genetically a full relative of her partner since she carries his germ-line gametes.  From any of their pooled gene's perspective the offspring have a one-in-two chance of including the specific gene.  Hence love supports kin selection driven by the selfish actions of genes.  Emotions, including love and anger, help drive the interactions between people.  Compassionate love also supports the symbiotic partnership of true friends built on fairness and trust.  Sapolsky notes the opposite of love is indifference, not hate.  The amygdala's projection into the locus ceruleus drives autonomic intensity.   and concern.  Compassion muted the empathic distress that sometimes leads to emotional exhaustion and burnout.  In both novices and especially seasoned loving-kindness meditators, the amygdala contains > 12 distinct areas: Central, Lateral.  It receives simple signals from the lower parts of the brain: pain from the PAG; and abstract complex information from the highest areas: Disgust, heart rate, and suffering from the insula cortex, allowing it to orchestrate emotion.  It connects strongly to attention focusing networks.  It sends signals to almost every other part of the brain, including to the decision making circuitry of the frontal lobes.  It has high levels of D(1) dopamine receptors.  During extreme fear the amygdala drives the hippocampus into fear learning.  It outputs directly to subcortical reflexive motor pathways when speed is required.  Its central nucleus projects to the BNST.  It signals the locus ceruleus.  It directly signals area 25.  The amygdala:
  • Promotes aggression.  Stimulating the amygdala promotes rage.  It converts anger into aggression and when impaired it impacts the ability to detect angry facial expressions.  
  • Participates in disgust
  • Perceives fear promoting stimuli, focusing our attention on these.  In PTSD sufferers the Amygdala overreacts to mildly fearful stimuli and is slow to calm down and the amygdala expands in size over a period of months.  Fear is processed by the lateral nucleus which serves as the input from various senses, and the central nucleus which outputs to the brain stem (central grey - freezing, lateral hypothalamus - blood pressure, activates paraventricular hypothalamus => crf -> hormone adjustments). 
  • Has lots of receptors for and is highly sensitive to glucocorticoids.  Stress inhibits the GABA interneurons in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) allowing the excitatory glutamate releasing neurons to excite more. 
  • Is sensitive to unsettling/uncertain social situations where it promotes anxiety and makes us distracted.  It is also interested in uncertain but potentially painful situations.  The amygdala contributes to social and emotional decision making where the BLA supports rejecting an unacceptable offer, as allowed in the Ultimatum Game, by injecting implicit mistrust and vigilance, generating an anger driven rejection that is used as punishment.  The amygdala is very rapidly excited by subliminal signals from the thalamus of outgroup skin color.  The amygdala subsequently tips social emotions against outgroups unless restrained by the frontal lobe or influenced by subliminal priming to prioritize inclusion.  The fast path from the thalamus rapidly but inaccurately signals its identified a weapon. 
  • Sees suffering of others as increasingly salient with loving-kindness meditation practice, Goleman & Davidson explain. 
  • Promotes male, but not female, sexual motivation when it is an uncertain potential pleasure. 
  • Responds to the longing for uncertain potential pleasures and fear that the reward will not be worth it if it happens.  The amygdala turns off during orgasm. 
  • Uses but is not directly involved in vision.  
reacts strongly to images of pain emerged as a mental experience, Damasio asserts, constructed by the mind using mapping structures and events provided by nervous systems.  But feeling pain is supported by older biological functions that support homeostasis.  These capabilities reflect the organism's underlying emotive processes that respond to wounds: antibacterial and analgesic chemical deployment, flinching and evading actions; that occur in organisms without nervous systems.  Later in evolution, after organisms with nervous systems were able to map non-neural events, the components of this complex response were 'imageable'.  Today, a wound induced by an internal disease is reported by old, unmyelinated C nerve fibers.  A wound created by an external cut is signalled by evolutionarily recent myelinated fibers that result in a sharp well-localized report, that initially flows to the dorsal root ganglia, then to the spinal cord, where the signals are mixed within the dorsal and ventral horns, and then are transmitted to the brain stem nuclei, thalamus and cerebral cortex.  The pain of a cut is located, but it is also felt through an emotive response that stops us in our tracks.  Pain amplifies the aggression response of people by interoceptive signalling of brain regions providing social emotions including the PAG projecting to the amygdala; making aggressive people more so and less aggressive people less so.  Fear of pain is a significant contributor to female anxiety.  Pain is the main reason people visit the ED in the US.  Pain is mediated by the thalamus and nucleus accumbens, unless undermined by sleep deprivation. 
and suffering.  Goleman & Davidson note it did not take long for a novice to develop these activation patterns.  They reason that it is because we are biologically prepared to love.  They detail the neural profile: Distress circuits connect to the insula, which recruits the viscera, and amygdala which respond actively.  The amygdala has learnt, in the compassion practice, that the suffering of another is emotionally are low level fast unconscious agents distributed across the brain and body which associate, via the amygdala and rich club hubs, important environmental signals with encoded high speed sensors, and distributed programs of action to model: predict, prioritize guidance signals, select and respond effectively, coherently and rapidly to the initial signal.  The majority of emotion centered brain regions interface to the midbrain through the hypothalamus.  The cerebellum and basal ganglia support the integration of emotion and motor functions, rewarding rhythmic movement.  The most accessible signs of emotions are the hard to control and universal facial expressions.  Emotions provide prioritization for conscious access given that an animal has only one body, but possibly many cells, with which to achieve its highest level goals.  Because of this, base emotions clash with group goals and are disparaged by the powerful.  Pinker notes a set of group selected emotions which he classes as: other-condemning, other-praising, other-suffering and self-conscious emotions.  Evolutionary psychology argues evolution shaped human emotions during the long period of hunter-gatherer existence in the African savanna.  Human emotions are universal and include: Anger, Appreciation of natural beauty, Contempt, Disgust, Embarrassment, Fear, Gratitude, Grief, Guilt, Happiness, Honor, Jealousy, Liking, Love, Moral awe, Rage, Romantic love, Lust for revenge, Passion, Sadness, Self-control, Shame, Sympathy, Surprise; and the sham emotions and distrust induced by reciprocal altruism. 
salient, Douglas Hofstadter controlled the amount of attention a Workspace object in Copycat would receive from codelets via its salience.  The more descriptions, analogous to geons, an object has and the more highly activated the nodes involved therein, the more important the object is.  Modulating this tendency is any relative lack of connections from the object to the rest of the objects in the Workspace.  Salience is a dynamic number that takes into account both these factors.  In Smiley the instantaneous salience of a Workspace's objects is calculated by itsalience.  In the brain salience is modeled by the salience networks. 


Goleman and Davidson are interested in meditation's generation of long lasting traits.  They found that enhancing compassion comes readily and has sustained effects.  They assert that the mammalian caretaking circuits, active in love for children and friends, are strengthened with even short periods of compassion training.  And Goleman and Davidson note, the right side amygdala of exceptionally altruistic, is the property that since kin share genes natural selection will improve the replicator's selfish goals by supporting the survival of such relatives.  Improving the chances of survival of non-kin is hard to explain with a gene preservation theory.  Why help a competitive gene?  Trivers explanation of reciprocal altruism shows the special conditions under which it can occur. 
people is unusually, relatively large. 

Developing loving concern for other people's wellbeing indicates the state of an organism is within homeostatic balance.  It is described by Angus Deaton as all the things that are good for a person:
  • Material wellbeing includes income and wealth and its measures: GDP, personal income and consumption.  It can be traded for goods and services which recapture time.  Material wellbeing depends on investments in:
    • Infrastructure
      • Physical
      • Property rights, contracts and dispute resolution
    • People and their education
    • Capturing of basic knowledge via science.  
    • Engineering to turn science into goods and services and then continuously improve them. 
  • Physical and psychological wellbeing are represented by health and happiness; and education and the ability to participate in civil society through democracy and the rule of law.  University of Wisconsin's Ryff focuses on Aristotle's flourishing.  Life expectancy as a measure of population health, highly weights reductions in child mortality. 
induces a unique change: happiness is an emotion which functions to mobilize the mind to seek capabilities and resources that support Darwinian fitness.  Today happiness is associated with Epicurean ideas that were rediscovered during the renaissance and promoted by Thomas Jefferson.  But natural selection has 'designed' happiness to support hunter-gatherer fitness in the African savanna.  It is assessed: Relative to other's situations, Based on small gains or losses relative to one's current situation; and so what makes us [un-]happy and our responses can seem a counter-productive treadmill.  For Pleistocene hunter-gatherers in the savanna there were many ways for losses to undermine fitness and so losses still make us very unhappy.  Smoking, drinking and excessive eating were not significant and so don't make us unhappy even though they impact longevity.  
This page discusses the effect of the network on the agents participating in a complex adaptive system (CAS).  Small world and scale free networks are considered. 
networks
energize along with compassion networks.  Loving-kindness also increases connections between happiness nodes and the PFC is prefrontal cortex which is:
  • The front part of the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex.  It evolved most recently.  During adolescence when the PFC is still deploying, older brain agents provide equivalent strategies: ventral striatum.  The PFC has been implicated in planning, working memory: dorsolateral; decision making: Orbitofrontal cortex; and social behavior.  It regulates feelings.  Different PFC circuits track internal reward driven strategies and externally signalled advice.  The PFC chooses between conflicting options, letting go or restraint, especially between cognition and emotions.  It imposes an overarching strategy for managing working memory.  It is essential for thinking about multiple items with different labels.  It includes neurons that are interested in particular sub-categories: Dog, Cat.  Once it has made a decision it signals the rest of the frontal lobe just behind it.  Glucocorticoids decrease excitability of the PFC.  
and this enhanced connectivity correlates with increased altruism. 

Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science Dr. Tania Singer's ReSource Project has performed effective trials of contemplative practices: Presence - body scan is a mindfulness meditation exercise where the attention is moved around the body noticing the sensations of the visited part.  At the same time the brain models the visited part participating in flows in and out of the body with tensions and pain signals flowing out.  Move the mind to each part and feel it.  Breath in to and out from each region.  Imagine breathing in vitality and relaxation on each in breath.  Imagine the tensions are exhailed with the out breath.  As you let go of the sensations the muscles also let go of tensions.  First from the toes of the left foot to the pelvis and then the right foot to the pelvis.  From there move up through the torso, lower back and abdomen, upper back and chest, sholders.  Then from the fingers of both hands move simultaneously up both arms returning to the shoulders.  Then move through the neck and throat, all regions of the face, back of the head and top of the head to an imaginary hole at the top of the head where we release our breath. 
and breath focus,  Perspective - observing streams of thoughts shared with a partner, Affect - loving-kindness meditation; finding the scan increased body awareness and reduced mind wandering, observing thoughts enhanced meta-awareness is being able to track the quality of one's own awareness, according to Goleman & Davidson who consider it a facet of attention.  It is supported by the DLPFC.  They assert that loving-kindness meditation, operating on compassion, can enhance the function of the DLPFC and lessen unconscious bias. 
, loving-kindness increased warm thoughts and feelings about others. 

Goleman and Davidson explain that initial indications suggest each variety of meditation has its own neural profile.  Comparing a group doing cognitively based compassion training and another using mindful attention training, is Alan Wallace's meditation program, leveraged from Tibetan practice, starting with full focus on breath, progressively refines attention to observe the natural flow of the stream of thoughts, and then rests in the meta-awareness of awareness. 
:

Goleman and Davidson warn that many research projects are not rigorous about the meditation practice that is being studied.  In some it shifted over time.  And sometimes the brain network and function involved in a particular act are not defined. 
Attention!
University of Miami's Amishi Jha, a neuroscientist and meditator, conducted one of the first rigorous studies of how meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
impacts attention is the mutli-faceted capability allowing access to consciousness.  It includes selective attention, vigilance, allocating attention, goal focus, and meta-awareness. 
.  His team applied MBSR is mindfulness-based stress reduction.  Jon Kabat-Zinn developed the stress reduction clinic where techniques are taught to develop mindfulness and integrate it and a personal vision of success into every day experience.  In Kabat-Zinn's book Full Catastrophe Living a model of stress is described that allows stressful events to be coped with effectively.  Strategies are described for a wide variety of specific situations including medical symptoms, physical and emotional pain, anxiety and panic, time pressures, relationships, work, food, and external events.  , to novices, and found significant improvements in the orienting aspect of selective attention is the focusing (orienting) of our mental resources onto a specific piece of information.  Selective attention uses valuations assigned to each potential object of thought by the basal ganglia.  .  In another study MEG is magnetoencephalograthy the very precise recording of the miniscule magnetic waves that accompany the discharge of currents in cortical neurons. 
was used by researchers at MIT is Massachusetts Institute of Technology.   to compare a group using MBSR with a control group's ability to focus on sensations.  It was found that MBSR strengthens the ability to focus on one thing and ignore distractions.  Similar strengthening was detected with vipassana means 'to see clearly' in Pali.  It is the foundational mindfulness (Theravadan) meditation.  It aims to allow the stream of experience to move through attention.  S. N. Goenka aimed to make vipassana broadly available.  In his teaching the focus is on bodily sensations:
  1. Noting the sensations of breathing in and out for hours each day, to build concentration. 
  2. Perform a whole-body scan of whatever sensations are occurring anywhere in the body.  The meditator experiences a sea of shifting sensations and awareness. 
  3. Insight is then developed, which brings the added realization of how we link sensations to the self.  Insight into pain reveals that we build an object out of various continuously shifting sensations and provoked feelings that can become an emotive response of "mine".  Booklets describe how to develop the insights and practice. 
meditators at the Insight Meditation Society. 

All meditation aims to sustain attention.  Zen fashion attention, practiced by D.T. Suzuki, made him look like he was zoned out, staring ahead.  But he is purposefully allocating attention allows for noticing small or rapid shifts in what we experience, according to Goleman & Davidson. 
.  When the
This page discusses the potential of the vast state space which supports the emergence of complex adaptive systems (CAS).  Kauffman describes the mechanism by which the system expands across the space. 
environment
shifts he notices and responds with lightning speed.  Typically without meditation, most attention is initially focused on the main item that has gained conscious access is, argues Stanislas Dehaene, when some attended information eventually enters our awareness and becomes reportable to others.  , but then our focus drifts.  Goleman and Davidson report Saron & Wallace's three-month mediation retreat focusing on breath, including testing at the beginning, one month in, at the end, and five months after the end.  Saron & Wallace demonstrated a causal link between meditation and such vigilance is the state of wakefulness, which varies when we fall asleep or wake up.  For Goleman & Davidson it also reflects maintaining a constant level of attention as time goes on, through controlling habituation.  Their vigilance includes alerting - being ready to respond to whatever is encountered.  , which increased after one month, and the gains were still strong five months after the retreat ended. 

Goleman & Davidson report that vipassana meditation can reduce the length and intensity of the attentional blink is an experimental technique to create a minimal contrast between conscious and unconscious processing.  A brief period of invisibility of an image is created by saturating the conscious mind with attention on letters within a stream of symbols which are mostly digits.  A first letter is perceived.  A second letter presented in close succession (100 milliseconds) is completely missed by conscious perception.  The delay can be adjusted until 50% of the time the second letter is perceived allowing sensors to look at the differences in brain activity between the two minimally different situations.  The blink is associated with an increase in pleasure inducing neural signals.  Goleman & Davidson note that, after a three month vipassana meditation retreat, the blink time reduces 20% due to the neural response being more subdued.   .  In general 'open monitoring' meditation reduced the blink.  And it reversed the trend of the blink increasing with age. 

Goleman & Davidson explain that psychologists have studied the impact of trying to keep multiple tasks in attention.  Attention tasks don't go on in parallel.  Rapid switching is used, but there is an overhead to switching back to prior tasks which includes a reduction in the strength of attention.  It typically takes two minutes to regain full concentration.  And with the weaker signal it is harder to filter out noise.  People become more easily distracted.  And when multi-taskers try to focus, their brains activate more areas than are needed to do the task.  So frequent multi-taskers become more distracted.  Multi-taskers struggle with irrelevancy which undermines analytic understanding, empathy is the capability to relate to another person from their perspective.  It is implemented by spindle neurons.  Empathy towards others is controlled by the right-hemisphere supramarginal gyrus.  Empathy is context dependently mediated by estrogen.  It develops over time: Piaget's preoperational stage includes rudimentary empathy, Theory of mind supports the development; initially feeling someone's pain as one integrated being, then for them and eventually as them.  In adults, when someone else is hurt the anterior cingulate cortex, amygdala & insula activates projecting [scapegoating] to the vmPFC.  If the pain is physical the PAG activates and motor neurons for the area where the other person was injured.  The intertwining of the ACC amygdala & insula in adults results in attribution of fault even when there is none which can make it hard to step in and actually help.  But in seven-year-olds the activation is concrete: PAG and sensory & motor cortexes with minimal coupling to the rudimentary vmPFC.  In older children the vmPFC is coupled to limbic structures.  Ten to twelve year olds abstract empathy to classes of people.  Brizendine asserts young girls develop empathy earlier than boys, because their evolved greater neuronal investment in communication and emotion networks.  Year old girls are much more responsive to the distress of other people than boys are.  At 18 months girls are experiencing infantile puberty.  By adolescence the vmPFC is coupled to theory of mind regions and intentional harm induces disgust via the amygdala.  Sapolsky explains adolescent boys are utilitarian and tend to accept inequality more than girls do.  But both sexes accept inequality as the way it is.  Sociopaths do not develop empathy.   and concentration.  

Mindfulness is an active meditative state of non-doing, attentively seeking each 'present moment' with one's body and mind 'being' at rest and so cultivating awareness, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn.  Some traditions define it as observing when the mind wanders.  Others use it to refer to the floating awareness that witnesses whatever happens in our experience without judging or otherwise reacting, explain Goleman & Davidson.  The thinking mind usually spends a lot of time relating to the future and past which Kabat-Zinn argues limits its ability to become fully aware of the present.  In times of stress those thoughts are so overpowering that they crowd out awareness and appreciation of the present.  Mindfulness shifts attention to calming internal feelings.  It allows review and prioritization of thoughts as they are recognized.  Major attitude based pillars of successful mindfulness are: impartial to judging, patience, a beginner's mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance of seeing things the way they are and letting go.  An awareness of the body's state can be built with tools including: inquiry, naming; from Yogi's attention to:
  • Breathing - which is a proxy for the environmental situation and through its rhythms is a model of our emotional state.  Attention to breathing reminds people to feel their bodies too.  Belly breathing is particularly relaxing.  
  • Sitting - erect with head, neck and back aligned vertically.  Then attend to breathing moving back to it each time you observe the mind has wandered.  When the body becomes uncomfortable, direct attention to the discomfort, observe and welcome it.  
  • Experience our body - rather than model, judge or hate it relative to an ideal - with a body scan. 
  • Hatha yoga - very slow stretching and strengthening exercises with moment-to-moment awareness supports being in your body.  
  • Walking meditation - Intentionally attend to the immediate experience of walking.  
meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
, focused on breath, can improve concentration is keeping a specific goal or task in mind despite distractions according to Goleman & Davidson. 
, researchers found in a comparison with controls.  The effect is seen almost immediately but a six hour session spread over two weeks helped with concentration, reduced wandering of attention is the mutli-faceted capability allowing access to consciousness.  It includes selective attention, vigilance, allocating attention, goal focus, and meta-awareness. 
, enhanced working memory is a dominant function of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the areas it connects with.  Prefrontal neurons implement an active memory continuing to fire after the signal is gone for potentially dozens of seconds from the inferior temporal cortex (multi-sensory integration area) and lower level sensory neurons characterized by Hubel & Weisel, while the short-term memory task continues.  If the prefrontal cortex gets distracted the memory is lost from consciousness.  Earl Miller argues the prefrontal cortex implements the rules that decide which working memory neurons will fire (Spring 2017).  Working memory develops from childhood through the late teens, and depends on pyramidal neurons within the PFC. 
results and improved impulse inhibition is the conscious mind's ability to constrain our impulses.  It can be increased using a three month course of meditation including mindfulness breathing, an effect that sustains for over five-months. 


Goleman & Davidson note how vipassana means 'to see clearly' in Pali.  It is the foundational mindfulness (Theravadan) meditation.  It aims to allow the stream of experience to move through attention.  S. N. Goenka aimed to make vipassana broadly available.  In his teaching the focus is on bodily sensations:
  1. Noting the sensations of breathing in and out for hours each day, to build concentration. 
  2. Perform a whole-body scan of whatever sensations are occurring anywhere in the body.  The meditator experiences a sea of shifting sensations and awareness. 
  3. Insight is then developed, which brings the added realization of how we link sensations to the self.  Insight into pain reveals that we build an object out of various continuously shifting sensations and provoked feelings that can become an emotive response of "mine".  Booklets describe how to develop the insights and practice. 
meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
encouraged them to note the comings and goings of their own
Computational theory of the mind and evolutionary psychology provide Steven Pinker with a framework on which to develop his psychological arguments about the mind and its relationship to the brain.  Humans captured a cognitive niche by natural selection 'building out' specialized aspects of their bodies and brains resulting in a system of mental organs we call the mind. 

He garnishes and defends the framework with findings from psychology regarding: The visual system - an example of natural selections solutions to the sensory challenges of inverse modeling of our environment; Intensions - where he highlights the challenges of hunter gatherers - making sense of the objects they perceive and predicting what they imply and natural selections powerful solutions; Emotions - which Pinker argues are essential to human prioritizing and decision making; Relationships - natural selection's strategies for coping with the most dangerous competitors, other people.  He helps us understand marriage, friendships and war. 

These conclusions allow him to understand the development and maintenance of higher callings: Art, Music, Literature, Humor, Religion, & Philosophy; and develop a position on the meaning of life. 

Complex adaptive system (CAS) modeling allows RSS to frame Pinker's arguments within humanity's current situation, induced by powerful evolved amplifiers: Globalization, Cliodynamics, The green revolution and resource bottlenecks; melding his powerful predictions of the drivers of human behavior with system wide constraints.  The implications are discussed. 

mind
, without following the thoughts, desires, impulses and feelings are subjective models: sad, glad, mad, scared, surprised, and compassionate; of the organism and its proximate environment, including ratings of situations signalled by broadly distributed chemicals and neural circuits.  These feelings become highly salient inputs, evolutionarily associated, to higher level emotions encoded in neural circuits: amygdala, and insula.  Deacon shows James' conception of feeling can build sentience.  Damasio, similarly, asserts feelings reveal to the conscious mind the subjective status of life: good, bad, in between; within a higher organism.  They especially indicate the affective situation within the old interior world of the viscera located in the abdomen, thorax and thick of the skin - so smiling makes one feel happy; but augmented with the reports from the situation of the new interior world of voluntary muscles.  Repeated experiences build intermediate narratives, in the mind, which reduce the salience.  Damasio concludes feelings relate closely and consistently with homeostasis, acting as its mental deputies once organisms developed 'nervous systems' about 600 million years ago, and building on the precursor regulatory devices supplied by evolution to social insects and prokaryotes and leveraging analogous dynamic constraints.  Damasio suggests feelings contribute to the development of culture:
  • As motives for intellectual creation: prompting detection and diagnosis of homeostatic deficiencies, identifying desirable states worthy of creative effort.
  • As monitors of the success and failure of cultural instruments and practices
  • As participants in the negotiation of adjustments required by the cultural process over time 
they observed.  This practice develops meta-awareness is being able to track the quality of one's own awareness, according to Goleman & Davidson who consider it a facet of attention.  It is supported by the DLPFC.  They assert that loving-kindness meditation, operating on compassion, can enhance the function of the DLPFC and lessen unconscious bias. 
, by focusing on awareness.  They stress that meta-awareness constrains the mind from being swept away in the experiences including judging and reacting emotionally is according to Damasio, a process including a collection of actions: release of specific chemicals in sites of the CNS or their transport, by neural signalling to varied regions of the nervous system and body.  Endocrine glands are signalled and produce molecules capable of altering body function; altering viscera, that changes the homeostatic state of the organism, and may change the spontaneous feelings too.  A cascade of spontaneous homeostatic changes: metabolism, nervous system, immune response, mind builds 'images'; becomes an ensemble of actions each represented in the mind, summarized as a provoked feeling.  Attention to the feelings varies depending on the current state of the mind.  Emotive responses are generated non consciously by specific nuclei in the brain:
  • Hypothalamic nuclei
  • PAG
  • Amygdala nuclei and nucleus accumbens; each nuclei activated by particular streams of signals, from the senses or memory, enabling responses to vast numbers of sensations, objects and circumstances with drives, motivations and emotions. 
.  And when we do get swept away, it provides a choice point where we can refocus on the current goal. 

Goleman & Davidson explain that some attention oriented brain changes occur immediately upon practicing meditation, while others take longer: orienting is the focusing (orienting) of our mental resources onto a specific piece of information.  Selective attention uses valuations assigned to each potential object of thought by the basal ganglia.  shifts initially but then stops, alerting is the state of wakefulness, which varies when we fall asleep or wake up.  For Goleman & Davidson it also reflects maintaining a constant level of attention as time goes on, through controlling habituation.  Their vigilance includes alerting - being ready to respond to whatever is encountered.   improves with practice.  They consider it likely that sustained meditation is needed to stop the effects fading.  To offset the effects of multitasking takes sustained practice. 

Lightness of Being
Davidson recalled how his usual right knee pain emerged as a mental experience, Damasio asserts, constructed by the mind using mapping structures and events provided by nervous systems.  But feeling pain is supported by older biological functions that support homeostasis.  These capabilities reflect the organism's underlying emotive processes that respond to wounds: antibacterial and analgesic chemical deployment, flinching and evading actions; that occur in organisms without nervous systems.  Later in evolution, after organisms with nervous systems were able to map non-neural events, the components of this complex response were 'imageable'.  Today, a wound induced by an internal disease is reported by old, unmyelinated C nerve fibers.  A wound created by an external cut is signalled by evolutionarily recent myelinated fibers that result in a sharp well-localized report, that initially flows to the dorsal root ganglia, then to the spinal cord, where the signals are mixed within the dorsal and ventral horns, and then are transmitted to the brain stem nuclei, thalamus and cerebral cortex.  The pain of a cut is located, but it is also felt through an emotive response that stops us in our tracks.  Pain amplifies the aggression response of people by interoceptive signalling of brain regions providing social emotions including the PAG projecting to the amygdala; making aggressive people more so and less aggressive people less so.  Fear of pain is a significant contributor to female anxiety.  Pain is the main reason people visit the ED in the US.  Pain is mediated by the thalamus and nucleus accumbens, unless undermined by sleep deprivation. 
became terrible during a no-moving meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
exercise, but after a shift in his awareness the pain changed to a collection of sensations: tingling, burning, pressure; and no longer hurt.  Focusing on the sensations instead of fixating on the pain removed the negative feelings are subjective models: sad, glad, mad, scared, surprised, and compassionate; of the organism and its proximate environment, including ratings of situations signalled by broadly distributed chemicals and neural circuits.  These feelings become highly salient inputs, evolutionarily associated, to higher level emotions encoded in neural circuits: amygdala, and insula.  Deacon shows James' conception of feeling can build sentience.  Damasio, similarly, asserts feelings reveal to the conscious mind the subjective status of life: good, bad, in between; within a higher organism.  They especially indicate the affective situation within the old interior world of the viscera located in the abdomen, thorax and thick of the skin - so smiling makes one feel happy; but augmented with the reports from the situation of the new interior world of voluntary muscles.  Repeated experiences build intermediate narratives, in the mind, which reduce the salience.  Damasio concludes feelings relate closely and consistently with homeostasis, acting as its mental deputies once organisms developed 'nervous systems' about 600 million years ago, and building on the precursor regulatory devices supplied by evolution to social insects and prokaryotes and leveraging analogous dynamic constraints.  Damasio suggests feelings contribute to the development of culture:
  • As motives for intellectual creation: prompting detection and diagnosis of homeostatic deficiencies, identifying desirable states worthy of creative effort.
  • As monitors of the success and failure of cultural instruments and practices
  • As participants in the negotiation of adjustments required by the cultural process over time 
about the sensations.  He concluded that
Consciousness is no longer mysterious.  In this page we use complex adaptive system (CAS) theory to describe the high-level architecture of consciousness, linking sensory networks, low level feelings and genetically conserved and deployed neural structures into a high level scheduler.  Consciousness is evolution's solution to the complex problems of effective, emergent, multi-cellular perception based strategy.  Constrained by emergence and needing to avoid the epistemological problem of starting with a blank slate with every birth, evolution was limited in its options. 

We explain how survival value allows evolution to leverage available tools: sensors, agent relative position, models, perception & representation; to solve the problem of mobile agents responding effectively to their own state and proximate environment.  Evolution did this by providing a genetically constructed framework that can develop into a conscious CAS. 

And we discuss the implications with regard to artificial intelligence, sentient robots, augmented intelligence, and aspects of philosophy. 
consciousness
is acting as an integrator of all the mental processes into pain. 

Washington University at St. Louis's neuroscientist Marcus Raichle, had realized that when we 'do nothing' a
This page discusses the effect of the network on the agents participating in a complex adaptive system (CAS).  Small world and scale free networks are considered. 
network
in the brain is typically active: the default mode network in Buckner's fMRI based analysis, supports using past experiences to plan for the future, navigate social interactions and maximize the utility of moments when attention is not focused on external events.  It includes the: Medial prefrontal cortex, Medial temporal cortex, Posterior cingulate cortex.  It is disrupted in autism, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease.  It becomes quiet under the influence of psychedelics that bind to the serotonin receptor.  ; while our mind-wanders and we think about ourselves.  Goleman and Davidson argue the default mode network, knits together fragmentary: memories, hopes, dreams, plans; and makes us the center of our
This page discusses the mechanisms and effects of emergence underpinning any complex adaptive system (CAS).  Physical forces and constraints follow the rules of complexity.  They generate phenomena and support the indirect emergence of epiphenomena.  Flows of epiphenomena interact in events which support the emergence of equilibrium and autonomous entities.  Autonomous entities enable evolution to operate broadening the adjacent possible.  Key research is reviewed. 
emergent
universe, details which it replays constantly, until we focus on some challenge when it quiets. 

Unfortunately the default mode network can replay stressful is a multi-faceted condition reflecting high cortisol levels.  Dr. Robert Sapolsky's studies of baboons indicate that stress helps build readiness for fight or flight.  As these actions occur the levels of cortisol return to the baseline rate.  A stressor is anything that disrupts the regular homeostatic balance.  The stress response is the array of neural and endocrine changes that occur to respond effectively to the crisis and reestablish homeostasis. 
  • The short term response to the stressor
    • activates the amygdala which: Stimulates the brain stem resulting in inhibition of the parasympathetic nervous system and activation of the sympathetic nervous system with the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine deployed around the body, Activates the PVN which generates a cascade resulting in glucocorticoid secretion to: get energy to the muscles with increased blood pressure for a powerful response.  The brain's acuity and cognition are stimulated.  The immune system is stimulated with beta-endorphin and repair activities curtail.  In order for the body to destroy bacteria in wounds, pro-inflammatory cytokines increase blood flow to the area.  The induced inflammation signals the brain to activate the insula and through it the ACC.  But when the stressor is
  • long term: loneliness, debt; and no action is necessary, or possible, long term damage ensues.  Damage from such stress may only occur in specific situations: Nuclear families coping with parents moving in.  Sustained stress provides an evolved amplifier of a position of dominance and status.  It is a strategy in female aggression used to limit reproductive competition.  Sustained stress:
    • Stops the frontal cortex from ensuring we do the harder thing, instead substituting amplification of the individual's propensity for risk-taking and impairing risk assessment! 
    • Activates the integration between the thalamus and amygdala. 
      • Acts differently on the amygdala in comparison to the frontal cortex and hippocampus: Stress strengthens the integration between the Amygdala and the hippocampus, making the hippocampus fearful. 
      • BLA & BNST respond with increased BDNF levels and expanded dendrites persistently increasing anxiety and fear conditioning. 
    • Makes it easier to learn a fear association and to consolidate it into long-term memory.  Sustained stress makes it harder to unlearn fear by making the prefrontal cortex inhibit the BLA from learning to break the fear association and weakening the prefrontal cortex's hold over the amygdala.  And glucocorticoids decrease activation of the medial prefrontal cortex during processing of emotional faces.  Accuracy of assessing emotions from faces suffers.  A terrified rat generating lots of glucocorticoids will cause dendrites in the hippocampus to atrophy but when it generates the same amount from excitement of running on a wheel the dendrites expand.  The activation of the amygdala seems to determine how the hippocampus responds. 
    • Depletes the nucleus accumbens of dopamine biasing rats toward social subordination and biasing humans toward depression. 
    • Disrupts working memory by amplifying norepinephrine signalling in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala to prefrontal cortex signalling until they become destructive.  It also desynchronizes activation in different frontal lobe regions impacting shifting of attention.  
    • Increases the risk of autoimmune disease (Jan 2017) 
  • During depression, stress inhibits dopamine signalling.  
  • Strategies for stress reduction include: Mindfulness. 
events.  Tasks that require intense focus relieve the angst.  And managing attention during meditation catches the operation of the default mode network and brings us back to focus on the attended task.  Goleman & Davidson explain that activating and strengthening the connection between the DLPFC is dorsolateral prefrontal cortex which is:
  • At the heart of decision making - highly rational, unsentimental 
  • A major agent of working memory
  • The most recently evolved part of the prefrontal cortex.  
  • Mainly interconnected with other parts of the cortex. 
  • Must be inhibited or it constrains right brain creativity. 
and the default mode shifts control to the PFC is prefrontal cortex which is:
  • The front part of the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex.  It evolved most recently.  During adolescence when the PFC is still deploying, older brain agents provide equivalent strategies: ventral striatum.  The PFC has been implicated in planning, working memory: dorsolateral; decision making: Orbitofrontal cortex; and social behavior.  It regulates feelings.  Different PFC circuits track internal reward driven strategies and externally signalled advice.  The PFC chooses between conflicting options, letting go or restraint, especially between cognition and emotions.  It imposes an overarching strategy for managing working memory.  It is essential for thinking about multiple items with different labels.  It includes neurons that are interested in particular sub-categories: Dog, Cat.  Once it has made a decision it signals the rest of the frontal lobe just behind it.  Glucocorticoids decrease excitability of the PFC.  
's regulatory circuits.  All meditation makes constraining the default mode a trait, lightening the sense of self by deconstructing the object is a collection of: happenings, occurrences and processes; including emergent entities, as required by relativity, explains Rovelli.  But natural selection has improved our fitness by representing this perception, in our minds, as an unchanging thing, as explained by Pinker.  Dehaene explains the object modeling and construction process within the unconscious and conscious brain.  Mathematicians view anything that can be defined and used in deductive reasoning and mathematical proofs as an object.  These mathematical objects can be values of variables, allowing them to be used in formulas.  
and showing that thoughts, feelings, and impulses are transient mental events that can be observed rather than experienced.  Goleman and Davidson suggest weakening the activation of the default mode network reduces the focus inwards, enables compassion indicates an emotional state where resonance with someone else's distress leads one to help them.  The Dalai Lama stresses we must feel compassion for ourselves and others.  Tara Brach sees compassion as our capacity to relate in a tender and sympathetic way to what we perceive.  Meditation focused on feeling love for the suffering, strengthens compassion by activating the neuron networks for parental love for a child: ACC, insula, striatum, PAG, orbitofrontal cortex; and inducing a reduction in areas responsible for negative emotions. 
and reduces the burden of our concerns.  

Goleman & Davidson conclude from the limited scientific studies of meditation for lightness of being, suggests three processes leverage three different neuron networks:
  1. Watching your breath, and returning to it, heightens the activity of the DLPFC, enhancing connections to the PCC (PCC) is a brain region where invariant-location cells dwell.  It is closely connected to the parahippocampal gyrus.  It activates during self-focused thought.  University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness research director, Judson Brewer, sees the PCC participation in: distraction, wandering attention, thinking about ourselves, liking an immoral choice, feeling guilty, and craving.  Its activation was reduced by mindfulness meditation explain Goleman & Davidson. 
    .  
  2. More experienced meditators, using meta-awareness is being able to track the quality of one's own awareness, according to Goleman & Davidson who consider it a facet of attention.  It is supported by the DLPFC.  They assert that loving-kindness meditation, operating on compassion, can enhance the function of the DLPFC and lessen unconscious bias. 
    , also lessen activity within the DLPFC.  
  3. Long-term loving-kindness, and mindfulness is an active meditative state of non-doing, attentively seeking each 'present moment' with one's body and mind 'being' at rest and so cultivating awareness, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn.  Some traditions define it as observing when the mind wanders.  Others use it to refer to the floating awareness that witnesses whatever happens in our experience without judging or otherwise reacting, explain Goleman & Davidson.  The thinking mind usually spends a lot of time relating to the future and past which Kabat-Zinn argues limits its ability to become fully aware of the present.  In times of stress those thoughts are so overpowering that they crowd out awareness and appreciation of the present.  Mindfulness shifts attention to calming internal feelings.  It allows review and prioritization of thoughts as they are recognized.  Major attitude based pillars of successful mindfulness are: impartial to judging, patience, a beginner's mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance of seeing things the way they are and letting go.  An awareness of the body's state can be built with tools including: inquiry, naming; from Yogi's attention to:
    • Breathing - which is a proxy for the environmental situation and through its rhythms is a model of our emotional state.  Attention to breathing reminds people to feel their bodies too.  Belly breathing is particularly relaxing.  
    • Sitting - erect with head, neck and back aligned vertically.  Then attend to breathing moving back to it each time you observe the mind has wandered.  When the body becomes uncomfortable, direct attention to the discomfort, observe and welcome it.  
    • Experience our body - rather than model, judge or hate it relative to an ideal - with a body scan. 
    • Hatha yoga - very slow stretching and strengthening exercises with moment-to-moment awareness supports being in your body.  
    • Walking meditation - Intentionally attend to the immediate experience of walking.  
    meditators weakened nucleus accumbens is a region of the basal forebrain (striatum) rostral to the preoptic area and immediately adjacent to the septum.  The nucleus accumbens was closely associated with the limbic system, mediates the impact of emotion and plays an important role in reinforcement.  If a rodent wins a fight on his home territory, there are long-lasting increases in levels of testosterone receptors enhancing pleasurable effects.  When prairie voles first mate, epi-genetic state changes are induced in the accumbens to support pair-bonding.  The accumbens projects to brain regions associated with movement.  The major pathways of dopaminergic neurons begin in the substantia nigra and the ventral tegmental area.  The amygdala projects back to the accumbens.  The tegmentostriatal system begins in the ventral tegmental area and projects to the nucleus accumbens.  The nucleus accumbens includes high levels of D1, D2 and D3 dopamine receptors located on the spine & shafts of dendrites of excitatory cells reduce the transfer of excitation from the dendrites to the cell bodies, so only especially strong excitatory inputs get through to the cell body to elicit excitation.  It also has D4 dopamine receptors which are highly variable.  The accumbens responds differently to rewards depending on maturity: In juveniles all reward levels result in the same response activity level, During adolescence the accumbens responds to small rewards negatively, and large rewards hugely, In adults the rewards result in measured scaled positive responses.  Chronic stress depletes dopamine from the nucleus accumbens biasing humans towards depression.   connections from the default mode to other neuron networks that otherwise tightly bind the self.  They created a lasting drop in mind-wandering and a delight at being. 
They also explain that all the practice shifts the operation from the frontal cortex of the cerebral cortex is at the front of the brain.  It includes the: prefrontal cortex, motor cortex.  Sapolsky asserts it makes you do the harder thing when it's the right thing to do.  The frontal cortex supports working memory to sustain focus on a task.  It also coordinates the strategic actions necessary to achieve success.  It provides impulse control, regulation of emotion, and willpower.  The prefrontal cortex maintains focus by deprioritizing currently irrelevant streams of information.  The frontal cortex tracks rules.  Over a lifetime, that builds into a costly activity.  Once it tires, responses become less prosocial.  But practice shifts operation of tasks to the cerebellum.  The frontal cortex signals the tegmentum and accumbens with the conclusions of its expectancy/discrepancy calculations.  The frontal lobe provides executive function, considering bits of information, assessing patterns and then prioritizing the strategies.  The frontal lobe is the most recent part of the brain to evolve and involves a disproportionate percentage of primate-unique genes in its development and operation.  It does not complete development until the mid-20s.  It includes spindle neurons.  It is easily damaged.  Sapolsky (Nauta) notes that its ventromedial prefrontal cortex is a quasi-member of the limbic system. 
to the basal ganglia are a set of nuclei near the base of the brain that operate an evolved neural network that unconsciously models the attentional value of each potential object of thought.  It includes the: dorsal striatum which is involved in habit and the ventral striatum which is associated with rewards for winning and losing money. 
making the activities effortless.  Long-term practitioners: Dalai Lama; can switch emotions rapidly.  The rest of us find the situation more sticky.  Goleman & Davidson suggest this stems from the amygdala contains > 12 distinct areas: Central, Lateral.  It receives simple signals from the lower parts of the brain: pain from the PAG; and abstract complex information from the highest areas: Disgust, heart rate, and suffering from the insula cortex, allowing it to orchestrate emotion.  It connects strongly to attention focusing networks.  It sends signals to almost every other part of the brain, including to the decision making circuitry of the frontal lobes.  It has high levels of D(1) dopamine receptors.  During extreme fear the amygdala drives the hippocampus into fear learning.  It outputs directly to subcortical reflexive motor pathways when speed is required.  Its central nucleus projects to the BNST.  It signals the locus ceruleus.  It directly signals area 25.  The amygdala:
  • Promotes aggression.  Stimulating the amygdala promotes rage.  It converts anger into aggression and when impaired it impacts the ability to detect angry facial expressions.  
  • Participates in disgust
  • Perceives fear promoting stimuli, focusing our attention on these.  In PTSD sufferers the Amygdala overreacts to mildly fearful stimuli and is slow to calm down and the amygdala expands in size over a period of months.  Fear is processed by the lateral nucleus which serves as the input from various senses, and the central nucleus which outputs to the brain stem (central grey - freezing, lateral hypothalamus - blood pressure, activates paraventricular hypothalamus => crf -> hormone adjustments). 
  • Has lots of receptors for and is highly sensitive to glucocorticoids.  Stress inhibits the GABA interneurons in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) allowing the excitatory glutamate releasing neurons to excite more. 
  • Is sensitive to unsettling/uncertain social situations where it promotes anxiety and makes us distracted.  It is also interested in uncertain but potentially painful situations.  The amygdala contributes to social and emotional decision making where the BLA supports rejecting an unacceptable offer, as allowed in the Ultimatum Game, by injecting implicit mistrust and vigilance, generating an anger driven rejection that is used as punishment.  The amygdala is very rapidly excited by subliminal signals from the thalamus of outgroup skin color.  The amygdala subsequently tips social emotions against outgroups unless restrained by the frontal lobe or influenced by subliminal priming to prioritize inclusion.  The fast path from the thalamus rapidly but inaccurately signals its identified a weapon. 
  • Sees suffering of others as increasingly salient with loving-kindness meditation practice, Goleman & Davidson explain. 
  • Promotes male, but not female, sexual motivation when it is an uncertain potential pleasure. 
  • Responds to the longing for uncertain potential pleasures and fear that the reward will not be worth it if it happens.  The amygdala turns off during orgasm. 
  • Uses but is not directly involved in vision.  
and nucleus accumbens enforcing attachment supports a stable sense of connection & calm to another person who provides load sharing, using the 'attachment network': pituitary, hypothalamus, adrenal glands, ACC, VTA, nucleus accumbens, PFC; initially generated in babies by norepinephrine from the locus ceruleus as long as corticosteroid levels are low, which deploys & responds to oxytocin (nucleus accumbens, VTA, amygdala, hippocampus), to maintain critical judgment about our partners, once dopamine from the VTA has reinforced the initial interest of the nucleus accumbens.  The evolved attachment network is applied by birds, termed imprinting by conditioning advocates.  But Harlow showed clinging in infant monkeys is innate and needed to achieve attachment. 
and aversion, causing the mind to fixate on wanting something rewarding or avoiding something unpleasant.  

Mind, body and genome
Jon Kabat-Zinn's MBSR is mindfulness-based stress reduction.  Jon Kabat-Zinn developed the stress reduction clinic where techniques are taught to develop mindfulness and integrate it and a personal vision of success into every day experience.  In Kabat-Zinn's book Full Catastrophe Living a model of stress is described that allows stressful events to be coped with effectively.  Strategies are described for a wide variety of specific situations including medical symptoms, physical and emotional pain, anxiety and panic, time pressures, relationships, work, food, and external events.   aims to improve the quality of chronically ill patients' lives.  The program helped and was readily accepted by the medical establishment. 

The treatment of chronic pain emerged as a mental experience, Damasio asserts, constructed by the mind using mapping structures and events provided by nervous systems.  But feeling pain is supported by older biological functions that support homeostasis.  These capabilities reflect the organism's underlying emotive processes that respond to wounds: antibacterial and analgesic chemical deployment, flinching and evading actions; that occur in organisms without nervous systems.  Later in evolution, after organisms with nervous systems were able to map non-neural events, the components of this complex response were 'imageable'.  Today, a wound induced by an internal disease is reported by old, unmyelinated C nerve fibers.  A wound created by an external cut is signalled by evolutionarily recent myelinated fibers that result in a sharp well-localized report, that initially flows to the dorsal root ganglia, then to the spinal cord, where the signals are mixed within the dorsal and ventral horns, and then are transmitted to the brain stem nuclei, thalamus and cerebral cortex.  The pain of a cut is located, but it is also felt through an emotive response that stops us in our tracks.  Pain amplifies the aggression response of people by interoceptive signalling of brain regions providing social emotions including the PAG projecting to the amygdala; making aggressive people more so and less aggressive people less so.  Fear of pain is a significant contributor to female anxiety.  Pain is the main reason people visit the ED in the US.  Pain is mediated by the thalamus and nucleus accumbens, unless undermined by sleep deprivation. 
illustrates the benefits and challenges of MBSR's approach.  It has reduced the pain people feel, and how disabled they become, and improved the psychological symptoms including how stressed they felt, but there were few clinical improvements detected. 

Inflammation which is typically stimulated by stress is a multi-faceted condition reflecting high cortisol levels.  Dr. Robert Sapolsky's studies of baboons indicate that stress helps build readiness for fight or flight.  As these actions occur the levels of cortisol return to the baseline rate.  A stressor is anything that disrupts the regular homeostatic balance.  The stress response is the array of neural and endocrine changes that occur to respond effectively to the crisis and reestablish homeostasis. 
  • The short term response to the stressor
    • activates the amygdala which: Stimulates the brain stem resulting in inhibition of the parasympathetic nervous system and activation of the sympathetic nervous system with the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine deployed around the body, Activates the PVN which generates a cascade resulting in glucocorticoid secretion to: get energy to the muscles with increased blood pressure for a powerful response.  The brain's acuity and cognition are stimulated.  The immune system is stimulated with beta-endorphin and repair activities curtail.  In order for the body to destroy bacteria in wounds, pro-inflammatory cytokines increase blood flow to the area.  The induced inflammation signals the brain to activate the insula and through it the ACC.  But when the stressor is
  • long term: loneliness, debt; and no action is necessary, or possible, long term damage ensues.  Damage from such stress may only occur in specific situations: Nuclear families coping with parents moving in.  Sustained stress provides an evolved amplifier of a position of dominance and status.  It is a strategy in female aggression used to limit reproductive competition.  Sustained stress:
    • Stops the frontal cortex from ensuring we do the harder thing, instead substituting amplification of the individual's propensity for risk-taking and impairing risk assessment! 
    • Activates the integration between the thalamus and amygdala. 
      • Acts differently on the amygdala in comparison to the frontal cortex and hippocampus: Stress strengthens the integration between the Amygdala and the hippocampus, making the hippocampus fearful. 
      • BLA & BNST respond with increased BDNF levels and expanded dendrites persistently increasing anxiety and fear conditioning. 
    • Makes it easier to learn a fear association and to consolidate it into long-term memory.  Sustained stress makes it harder to unlearn fear by making the prefrontal cortex inhibit the BLA from learning to break the fear association and weakening the prefrontal cortex's hold over the amygdala.  And glucocorticoids decrease activation of the medial prefrontal cortex during processing of emotional faces.  Accuracy of assessing emotions from faces suffers.  A terrified rat generating lots of glucocorticoids will cause dendrites in the hippocampus to atrophy but when it generates the same amount from excitement of running on a wheel the dendrites expand.  The activation of the amygdala seems to determine how the hippocampus responds. 
    • Depletes the nucleus accumbens of dopamine biasing rats toward social subordination and biasing humans toward depression. 
    • Disrupts working memory by amplifying norepinephrine signalling in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala to prefrontal cortex signalling until they become destructive.  It also desynchronizes activation in different frontal lobe regions impacting shifting of attention.  
    • Increases the risk of autoimmune disease (Jan 2017) 
  • During depression, stress inhibits dopamine signalling.  
  • Strategies for stress reduction include: Mindfulness. 
, can be constrained, because a rigorous regime of MBSR reduces the generation of cortisol is a glucocorticoid produced in the adrenal cortex of the adrenal glands.  It:
  • Stimulates
    • Gluconeogenesis to increase production of blood sugar
    • Metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates
  • Suppresses the immune system.  
  • Decreases bone formation
  • In excessive concentrations destroy synaptic connections in the: hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex; leading to flattened emotions and impaired memory. 
and pro-inflammatory cytokines control the development of hematopoietic cell lines.  They regulate the immune response and are involved in the development of immune-competent cells.  To support the body in fighting bacteria in wounds, pro-inflammatory cytokines  increase blood flow to the invaded area to enhance the supply of immune cells that consume the invaders. 
.  This corresponds to increased connectivity between the PFC is prefrontal cortex which is:
  • The front part of the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex.  It evolved most recently.  During adolescence when the PFC is still deploying, older brain agents provide equivalent strategies: ventral striatum.  The PFC has been implicated in planning, working memory: dorsolateral; decision making: Orbitofrontal cortex; and social behavior.  It regulates feelings.  Different PFC circuits track internal reward driven strategies and externally signalled advice.  The PFC chooses between conflicting options, letting go or restraint, especially between cognition and emotions.  It imposes an overarching strategy for managing working memory.  It is essential for thinking about multiple items with different labels.  It includes neurons that are interested in particular sub-categories: Dog, Cat.  Once it has made a decision it signals the rest of the frontal lobe just behind it.  Glucocorticoids decrease excitability of the PFC.  
and the default mode network in Buckner's fMRI based analysis, supports using past experiences to plan for the future, navigate social interactions and maximize the utility of moments when attention is not focused on external events.  It includes the: Medial prefrontal cortex, Medial temporal cortex, Posterior cingulate cortex.  It is disrupted in autism, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease.  It becomes quiet under the influence of psychedelics that bind to the serotonin receptor.  .  Goleman & Davidson note this becomes a long term trait. 

Observing your breathing, using precise attention allowed Dan Goleman to 'clear the mind, and so, calm the body.'  Dan was also hoping that meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
would reduce his hypertension is high blood pressure.  It is directly associated with death rate due to pressure induced damage to the left ventricle and in general to cardiovascular diseases.  Treated with antihypertensives: Diuretics, Calcium channel blockers, Angiotensin receptor blockers or Beta blockers.  .  Goleman & Davidson, note that there had been scientific reports of meditation lowering blood pressure.  But in this instance Dan's physician, suggested his was caused by a rare adrenal are endocrine glands, situated above the kidneys, that produce: adrenaline, aldosterone and cortisol. 
disorder.  Appropriate medication reduced Dan's blood pressure over the long term while meditation would not. 

Davidson's early research has been broadly referenced, but the studies were never replicated and were only intended as pilots without active controls.  Indeed his later research studying highly experienced meditators: Tibetan yogis; did not show the expected results suggested by the earlier research. 

Advanced practice of meditation does alter the practitioner's relation to all their emotions are low level fast unconscious agents distributed across the brain and body which associate, via the amygdala and rich club hubs, important environmental signals with encoded high speed sensors, and distributed programs of action to model: predict, prioritize guidance signals, select and respond effectively, coherently and rapidly to the initial signal.  The majority of emotion centered brain regions interface to the midbrain through the hypothalamus.  The cerebellum and basal ganglia support the integration of emotion and motor functions, rewarding rhythmic movement.  The most accessible signs of emotions are the hard to control and universal facial expressions.  Emotions provide prioritization for conscious access given that an animal has only one body, but possibly many cells, with which to achieve its highest level goals.  Because of this, base emotions clash with group goals and are disparaged by the powerful.  Pinker notes a set of group selected emotions which he classes as: other-condemning, other-praising, other-suffering and self-conscious emotions.  Evolutionary psychology argues evolution shaped human emotions during the long period of hunter-gatherer existence in the African savanna.  Human emotions are universal and include: Anger, Appreciation of natural beauty, Contempt, Disgust, Embarrassment, Fear, Gratitude, Grief, Guilt, Happiness, Honor, Jealousy, Liking, Love, Moral awe, Rage, Romantic love, Lust for revenge, Passion, Sadness, Self-control, Shame, Sympathy, Surprise; and the sham emotions and distrust induced by reciprocal altruism. 
: the emotions lose the power to pull us into their cascade of sub-goals.  But Goleman & Davidson note with different types of meditation: breathing, loving-kindness practices holding tender, compassionate, feelings towards a slowly widening circle of people: family we love, friends, people we don't know, people we dislike, every person; recognizing the oneness, where everyone desires happiness.  Goleman & Davidson describe the neuroscience involved with this mediation.  Research comparing two groups: one practicing loving-kindness meditation, the other acting as a control group just learning the theory; only the meditators showed a reduced implicit bias against out-groups.  They also studied masters - Tibetan yogis. 
, mindfulness is an active meditative state of non-doing, attentively seeking each 'present moment' with one's body and mind 'being' at rest and so cultivating awareness, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn.  Some traditions define it as observing when the mind wanders.  Others use it to refer to the floating awareness that witnesses whatever happens in our experience without judging or otherwise reacting, explain Goleman & Davidson.  The thinking mind usually spends a lot of time relating to the future and past which Kabat-Zinn argues limits its ability to become fully aware of the present.  In times of stress those thoughts are so overpowering that they crowd out awareness and appreciation of the present.  Mindfulness shifts attention to calming internal feelings.  It allows review and prioritization of thoughts as they are recognized.  Major attitude based pillars of successful mindfulness are: impartial to judging, patience, a beginner's mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance of seeing things the way they are and letting go.  An awareness of the body's state can be built with tools including: inquiry, naming; from Yogi's attention to:
  • Breathing - which is a proxy for the environmental situation and through its rhythms is a model of our emotional state.  Attention to breathing reminds people to feel their bodies too.  Belly breathing is particularly relaxing.  
  • Sitting - erect with head, neck and back aligned vertically.  Then attend to breathing moving back to it each time you observe the mind has wandered.  When the body becomes uncomfortable, direct attention to the discomfort, observe and welcome it.  
  • Experience our body - rather than model, judge or hate it relative to an ideal - with a body scan. 
  • Hatha yoga - very slow stretching and strengthening exercises with moment-to-moment awareness supports being in your body.  
  • Walking meditation - Intentionally attend to the immediate experience of walking.  
; and levels of practice, and different styles and levels of expertise of teaching, it is difficult to draw conclusions from most experimental data.  These do not report such details about the participants, or do not have active control groups that are necessary to tie any change to the specific use of meditation.  Practice of different types of meditation is known to have different impacts on physiology.  But many physiological problems also cause changes: anxiety is manifested in the amygdala mediating inhibition of dopamine rewards.  Anxiety disorders are now seen as a related cluster, including PTSD, panic attacks, and phobias.  Major anxiety, is typically episodic, correlated with increased activity in the amygdala, results in elevated glucocorticoids and reduces hippocampal dendrite & spine density.  Some estrogen receptor variants are associated with anxiety in women.  Women are four times more likely to suffer from anxiety.  Louann Brizendine concludes this helps prepare mothers, so they are ready to protect their children.  Michael Pollan concludes anxiety is fear of the future.  Sufferers of mild autism often develop anxiety disorders.  Treatments for anxiety differ.  50 to 70% of people with generalized anxiety respond to drugs increasing serotonin concentrations, where there is relief from symptoms: worry, guilt; linked to depression, which are treated with SSRIs (Prozac).  Cognitive anxiety (extreme for worries and anxious thoughts) is also helped by yoga.  But many fear-related disorders respond better to psychotherapy: psychoanalysis, and intensive CBT.  Tara Brach notes that genuine freedom from fear is enabled by taking refuge. 
and chronic pain emerged as a mental experience, Damasio asserts, constructed by the mind using mapping structures and events provided by nervous systems.  But feeling pain is supported by older biological functions that support homeostasis.  These capabilities reflect the organism's underlying emotive processes that respond to wounds: antibacterial and analgesic chemical deployment, flinching and evading actions; that occur in organisms without nervous systems.  Later in evolution, after organisms with nervous systems were able to map non-neural events, the components of this complex response were 'imageable'.  Today, a wound induced by an internal disease is reported by old, unmyelinated C nerve fibers.  A wound created by an external cut is signalled by evolutionarily recent myelinated fibers that result in a sharp well-localized report, that initially flows to the dorsal root ganglia, then to the spinal cord, where the signals are mixed within the dorsal and ventral horns, and then are transmitted to the brain stem nuclei, thalamus and cerebral cortex.  The pain of a cut is located, but it is also felt through an emotive response that stops us in our tracks.  Pain amplifies the aggression response of people by interoceptive signalling of brain regions providing social emotions including the PAG projecting to the amygdala; making aggressive people more so and less aggressive people less so.  Fear of pain is a significant contributor to female anxiety.  Pain is the main reason people visit the ED in the US.  Pain is mediated by the thalamus and nucleus accumbens, unless undermined by sleep deprivation. 
both increase the breathing rate, which may increase the likelihood of a freeze-fight-or-flight reaction to a stressor. 

Davidson was interested in running experiments to see if meditation could be influencing gene switches that change the potential for chronic diseases: diabetes includes type 1 and type 2.  Common side effects include: increased heart disease, hypertension, kidney disease, vision loss, nerve damage, and infections. 
, telomeric seal the ends of a chromosome.  During each replication of the chromosome the telomeres shrink slightly.  Over time they act as an indication of the total age of the organism and contribute to the death from 'old age' of some organisms.  Stem cells are protected from this chromosomal aging by telomerases.  But differentiated cells are expected to die and do not express telomerase.  In the adaptive web framework's (AWF) Smiley telomeric infrastructure counts down the age of telomeric schematic strings.  The analogy with a real telomere is weak and has no operational equivalence!   driven cell death during
In his talk 'The Science of Ending Aging' Aubrey de Grey argues we should invest more in maintenance of our bodies.  In this page we summarize his video comments and then use complex adaptive system (CAS) theory to review his arguments.  Focusing the lens of CAS theory and mechanisms of emergence on the system we highlight the pros and cons of ending aging. 
aging
, Loneliness is an aversive signal like thirst, hunger or pain.  It has been associated with the dorsal raphe nucleus (Sep 2016).  Loneliness affects several important bodily functions through overstimulation of the stress response.  Chronic loneliness is associated with increased cortisol levels, hypertension and impaired production of white blood cells undermining the immune system.   increasing pro-inflammatory gene operation; analogous to the success with inflammation.  Meta-analysis of four randomized controlled studies, including 190 meditators associated practicing mindfulness is an active meditative state of non-doing, attentively seeking each 'present moment' with one's body and mind 'being' at rest and so cultivating awareness, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn.  Some traditions define it as observing when the mind wanders.  Others use it to refer to the floating awareness that witnesses whatever happens in our experience without judging or otherwise reacting, explain Goleman & Davidson.  The thinking mind usually spends a lot of time relating to the future and past which Kabat-Zinn argues limits its ability to become fully aware of the present.  In times of stress those thoughts are so overpowering that they crowd out awareness and appreciation of the present.  Mindfulness shifts attention to calming internal feelings.  It allows review and prioritization of thoughts as they are recognized.  Major attitude based pillars of successful mindfulness are: impartial to judging, patience, a beginner's mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance of seeing things the way they are and letting go.  An awareness of the body's state can be built with tools including: inquiry, naming; from Yogi's attention to:
  • Breathing - which is a proxy for the environmental situation and through its rhythms is a model of our emotional state.  Attention to breathing reminds people to feel their bodies too.  Belly breathing is particularly relaxing.  
  • Sitting - erect with head, neck and back aligned vertically.  Then attend to breathing moving back to it each time you observe the mind has wandered.  When the body becomes uncomfortable, direct attention to the discomfort, observe and welcome it.  
  • Experience our body - rather than model, judge or hate it relative to an ideal - with a body scan. 
  • Hatha yoga - very slow stretching and strengthening exercises with moment-to-moment awareness supports being in your body.  
  • Walking meditation - Intentionally attend to the immediate experience of walking.  
with increased telomerase is an enzyme which repairs the shrinking telomeres of dividing cells.  
activity.  Goleman & Davidson are keen to show a linkage between altered genetic operation and medical improvements

Enough research has now been done to associate meditation with enlargement of certain brain areas:
With their exacting standards Goleman & Davidson have not found rigorous experiments that show meditation curing medical syndromes.  But they did find evidence that it enhances the quality of life of patients struggling with chronic diseases. 

Meditation as psychiatry
There have been positive reports of MBCT is mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.  Tara Bennett-Goleman, and Dr. Jeffrey Young had applied cognitive therapy adourned with vipassana meditation to help patients overcome panic attacks.  Cognitive therapy helps the patient distance themselves from catastrophizing thoughts.  Observing the breath with mindfulness helped the patient overcome the panic attacks.  John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Mark Williams successfully used MBCT to reduce the rate of relapse into severe depression by half in their patients, explain Daniel Goleman & Richard Davidson. 
for depression is a debilitating episodic state of extreme sadness, typically beginning in late teens or early twenties. This is accompanied by a lack of energy and emotion, which is facilitated by genetic predisposition - for example genes coding for relatively low serotonin levels, estrogen sensitive CREB-1 gene which increases women's incidence of depression at puberty; and an accumulation of traumatic events.  There is a significant risk of suicide: depression is involved in 50% of the 43,000 suicides in the US, and 15% of people with depression commit suicide.  Depression is the primary cause of disability with about 20 million Americans impacted by depression at any time.  There is evidence of shifts in the sleep/wake cycle in affected individuals (Dec 2015).  The affected person will experience a pathological sense of loss of control, prolonged sadness with feelings of hopelessness, helplessness & worthlessness, irritability, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, and inability to experience pleasure.  Michael Pollan concludes depression is fear of the past.  It affects 12% of men and 20% of women.  It appears to be associated with androgen deprivation therapy treatment for prostate cancer (Apr 2016).  Chronic stress depletes the nucleus accumbens of dopamine, biasing humans towards depression.  Depression easily leads to following unhealthy pathways: drinking, overeating; which increase the risk of heart disease.   It has been associated with an aging related B12 deficiency (Sep 2016).  During depression, stress mediates inhibition of dopamine signalling.  Both depression and stress activate the adrenal glands' release of cortisol, which will, over the long term, impact the PFC.  There is an association between depression and additional brain regions: Enlarged & more active amygdala, Hippocampal dendrite and spine number reductions & in longer bouts hippocampal volume reductions and memory problems, Dorsal raphe nucleus linked to loneliness, Defective functioning of the hypothalamus undermining appetite and sex drive, Abnormalities of the ACC.  Mayberg notes ACC area 25: serotonin transporters are particularly active in depressed people and lower the serotonin in area 25 impacting the emotion circuit it hubs, inducing bodily sensations that patients can't place or consciously do anything about; and right anterior insula: which normally generates emotions from internal feelings instead feel dead inside; are critical in depression.  Childhood adversity can increase depression risk by linking recollections of uncontrollable situations to overgeneralizations that life will always be terrible and uncontrollable.  Sufferers of mild autism often develop depression.  Treatments include: CBT which works well for cases with below average activity of the right anterior insula (mild and moderate depression), UMHS depression management, deep-brain stimulation of the anterior insula to slow firing of area 25.  Drug treatments are required for cases with above average activity of the right anterior insula.  As of 2010 drug treatments: SSRIs (Prozac), MAO, monoamine reuptake inhibitors; take weeks to facilitate a response & many patients do not respond to the first drug applied, often prolonging the agony.  By 2018, Kandel notes, Ketamine is being tested as a short term treatment, as it acts much faster, reversing the effect of cortisol in stimulating glutamate signalling, and because it reverses the atrophy induced by chronic stress.   Genomic predictions of which treatment will be effective have not been possible because: Not all clinical depressions are the same, a standard definition of drug response is difficult; and panic attacks.  But for Goleman & Davidson, the body of experiments that justified the reports was not rigorously designed.  A Johns Hopkins Meta-analysis of 47 studies of meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
alone, without cognitive therapy, did not find enough mantra-based studies to support a conclusion.  For mindfulness is an active meditative state of non-doing, attentively seeking each 'present moment' with one's body and mind 'being' at rest and so cultivating awareness, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn.  Some traditions define it as observing when the mind wanders.  Others use it to refer to the floating awareness that witnesses whatever happens in our experience without judging or otherwise reacting, explain Goleman & Davidson.  The thinking mind usually spends a lot of time relating to the future and past which Kabat-Zinn argues limits its ability to become fully aware of the present.  In times of stress those thoughts are so overpowering that they crowd out awareness and appreciation of the present.  Mindfulness shifts attention to calming internal feelings.  It allows review and prioritization of thoughts as they are recognized.  Major attitude based pillars of successful mindfulness are: impartial to judging, patience, a beginner's mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance of seeing things the way they are and letting go.  An awareness of the body's state can be built with tools including: inquiry, naming; from Yogi's attention to:
  • Breathing - which is a proxy for the environmental situation and through its rhythms is a model of our emotional state.  Attention to breathing reminds people to feel their bodies too.  Belly breathing is particularly relaxing.  
  • Sitting - erect with head, neck and back aligned vertically.  Then attend to breathing moving back to it each time you observe the mind has wandered.  When the body becomes uncomfortable, direct attention to the discomfort, observe and welcome it.  
  • Experience our body - rather than model, judge or hate it relative to an ideal - with a body scan. 
  • Hatha yoga - very slow stretching and strengthening exercises with moment-to-moment awareness supports being in your body.  
  • Walking meditation - Intentionally attend to the immediate experience of walking.  
the studies showed a significant lessoning of anxiety is manifested in the amygdala mediating inhibition of dopamine rewards.  Anxiety disorders are now seen as a related cluster, including PTSD, panic attacks, and phobias.  Major anxiety, is typically episodic, correlated with increased activity in the amygdala, results in elevated glucocorticoids and reduces hippocampal dendrite & spine density.  Some estrogen receptor variants are associated with anxiety in women.  Women are four times more likely to suffer from anxiety.  Louann Brizendine concludes this helps prepare mothers, so they are ready to protect their children.  Michael Pollan concludes anxiety is fear of the future.  Sufferers of mild autism often develop anxiety disorders.  Treatments for anxiety differ.  50 to 70% of people with generalized anxiety respond to drugs increasing serotonin concentrations, where there is relief from symptoms: worry, guilt; linked to depression, which are treated with SSRIs (Prozac).  Cognitive anxiety (extreme for worries and anxious thoughts) is also helped by yoga.  But many fear-related disorders respond better to psychotherapy: psychoanalysis, and intensive CBT.  Tara Brach notes that genuine freedom from fear is enabled by taking refuge. 
, depression is a debilitating episodic state of extreme sadness, typically beginning in late teens or early twenties. This is accompanied by a lack of energy and emotion, which is facilitated by genetic predisposition - for example genes coding for relatively low serotonin levels, estrogen sensitive CREB-1 gene which increases women's incidence of depression at puberty; and an accumulation of traumatic events.  There is a significant risk of suicide: depression is involved in 50% of the 43,000 suicides in the US, and 15% of people with depression commit suicide.  Depression is the primary cause of disability with about 20 million Americans impacted by depression at any time.  There is evidence of shifts in the sleep/wake cycle in affected individuals (Dec 2015).  The affected person will experience a pathological sense of loss of control, prolonged sadness with feelings of hopelessness, helplessness & worthlessness, irritability, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, and inability to experience pleasure.  Michael Pollan concludes depression is fear of the past.  It affects 12% of men and 20% of women.  It appears to be associated with androgen deprivation therapy treatment for prostate cancer (Apr 2016).  Chronic stress depletes the nucleus accumbens of dopamine, biasing humans towards depression.  Depression easily leads to following unhealthy pathways: drinking, overeating; which increase the risk of heart disease.   It has been associated with an aging related B12 deficiency (Sep 2016).  During depression, stress mediates inhibition of dopamine signalling.  Both depression and stress activate the adrenal glands' release of cortisol, which will, over the long term, impact the PFC.  There is an association between depression and additional brain regions: Enlarged & more active amygdala, Hippocampal dendrite and spine number reductions & in longer bouts hippocampal volume reductions and memory problems, Dorsal raphe nucleus linked to loneliness, Defective functioning of the hypothalamus undermining appetite and sex drive, Abnormalities of the ACC.  Mayberg notes ACC area 25: serotonin transporters are particularly active in depressed people and lower the serotonin in area 25 impacting the emotion circuit it hubs, inducing bodily sensations that patients can't place or consciously do anything about; and right anterior insula: which normally generates emotions from internal feelings instead feel dead inside; are critical in depression.  Childhood adversity can increase depression risk by linking recollections of uncontrollable situations to overgeneralizations that life will always be terrible and uncontrollable.  Sufferers of mild autism often develop depression.  Treatments include: CBT which works well for cases with below average activity of the right anterior insula (mild and moderate depression), UMHS depression management, deep-brain stimulation of the anterior insula to slow firing of area 25.  Drug treatments are required for cases with above average activity of the right anterior insula.  As of 2010 drug treatments: SSRIs (Prozac), MAO, monoamine reuptake inhibitors; take weeks to facilitate a response & many patients do not respond to the first drug applied, often prolonging the agony.  By 2018, Kandel notes, Ketamine is being tested as a short term treatment, as it acts much faster, reversing the effect of cortisol in stimulating glutamate signalling, and because it reverses the atrophy induced by chronic stress.   Genomic predictions of which treatment will be effective have not been possible because: Not all clinical depressions are the same, a standard definition of drug response is difficult;, and pain emerged as a mental experience, Damasio asserts, constructed by the mind using mapping structures and events provided by nervous systems.  But feeling pain is supported by older biological functions that support homeostasis.  These capabilities reflect the organism's underlying emotive processes that respond to wounds: antibacterial and analgesic chemical deployment, flinching and evading actions; that occur in organisms without nervous systems.  Later in evolution, after organisms with nervous systems were able to map non-neural events, the components of this complex response were 'imageable'.  Today, a wound induced by an internal disease is reported by old, unmyelinated C nerve fibers.  A wound created by an external cut is signalled by evolutionarily recent myelinated fibers that result in a sharp well-localized report, that initially flows to the dorsal root ganglia, then to the spinal cord, where the signals are mixed within the dorsal and ventral horns, and then are transmitted to the brain stem nuclei, thalamus and cerebral cortex.  The pain of a cut is located, but it is also felt through an emotive response that stops us in our tracks.  Pain amplifies the aggression response of people by interoceptive signalling of brain regions providing social emotions including the PAG projecting to the amygdala; making aggressive people more so and less aggressive people less so.  Fear of pain is a significant contributor to female anxiety.  Pain is the main reason people visit the ED in the US.  Pain is mediated by the thalamus and nucleus accumbens, unless undermined by sleep deprivation. 
.  But there was no benefit found for: eating habits, sleep facilitates salient memory formation and removal of non-salient memories.  The five different stages of the nightly sleep cycles support different aspects of memory formation.  The sleep stages follow Pre-sleep and include: Stage one characterized by light sleep and lasting 10 minutes, Stage two where theta waves and sleep spindles occur, Stage three and Stage four together represent deep slow-wave sleep (SWS) with delta waves, Stage five is REM sleep; sleep cycles last between 90-110 minutes each and as the night progresses SWS times reduce and REM times increase.   Sleep includes the operation of synapse synthesis and maintenance through DNA based activity including membrane trafficking, synaptic vesicle recycling, myelin structural protein formation and cholesterol and protein synthesis.  Sleep also controls inflammation (Jan 2019)  Sleep deprivation undermines the thalamus & nucleus accumbens management of pain. 
, substance abuse, weight problems, ugly moods, addictions results from changes in the operation of the brain's reward network's regulatory regions, altering the anticipation of rewards.  Addictive drugs mediate the receptors of the reward network, increasing dopamine in the pleasure centers of the cortex.  The learned association of the situation with the reward makes addiction highly prone to relapse, when the situation is subsequently experienced.  This makes addiction a chronic disease, where the sufferer must remain vigilant to avoid relapse inducing situations.  Repeated exposure to the addictive drug alters the reward network.  The neurons that produce dopamine are impaired, no longer sending dopamine to the reward target areas, reducing the feeling of pleasure.  But the situational association remains strong driving the addict to repeat the addictive activity.  Destroying the memory of the pleasure inducer may provide a treatment for addiction in the future.  Addiction has a genetic component, which supports inheritance.  Some other compulsive disorders: eating, gambling, sexual behavior; are similar to drug addiction. 
, poor attention; over a short-term intervention.  Long-term meditation data was too sparse to leverage.  What is needed are studies with large numbers of people for a long time.  But such rigor, typically performed in new drug trials, requires huge investments from the NIH is the National Institute of Health, Bethesda Maryland.  It is the primary federal agency for the support and conduct of biomedical and behavioral research.  It is also one of the four US special containment units of the CDC.   or pharmaceutical companies

The success of the original MBCT depression study encouraged additional research using 300 severely depressed people, split between active control groups and MBCT.  Again MBCT proved effective, and especially so for the more severe cases.  Zindel Segal, using fMRI is functional magnetic resonance imaging.  Seiji Ogawa leveraged the coupling of neuronal circuit activity and blood flow through the associated glial cells to build a 3 dimensional picture of brain cell activity.  As haemoglobin gives up its oxygen to support the neural activity it becomes magnetic and acts as a signal detected by the fMRI.  fMRI easily visualizes the state of activity in the living human brain at millimeter resolution, up to several times a second but it cannot track the time course of neural firing so it is augmented with EEG.   to study each recovered patient's insula is part of the cerebral cortex folded deep within the lateral sulcus.  It includes: anterior, posterior insula; and is overlaid by the operculum.  Kandel notes the anterior insula is where feelings are calibrated by evaluating and integrating the importance of the stimuli.  It directly signals area 25.  LeDoux showed there are two routes for signals of feelings and emotions to the amygdala: a fast unconscious one and a slow one that involves the anterior insula.  So the insula is assumed to participate in consciousness where it has been linked to emotion, salience & body homeostasis functions:
  • Perception,
  • Motor control: Hand-&-eye motor movement, Swallowing, Gastric motility, Speech articulation;
  • Self-awareness,
  • Inter-personal experiences: Disgust at smells, contamination & mutilation which generate visceral responses, that are projected to the amygdala; binding physical and moral aspects of purity (Macbeth effect)
    • Suffering of others can be projected by the insula to the amygdala and made increasingly salient with loving-kindness meditation practice, Goleman & Davidson explain. 
  • Homeostatic regulation of the sympathetic network, parasympathetic network, and immune system.  Heart rate and sweat gland activity are monitored.   When the amygdala signals concern, the insula prepares the body for action, increasing blood flow to the muscles etc.
, found the best results occurred for patients who were mindful and can step outside their thoughts and feelings and avoid being transformed by them.  
Goleman & Davidson note there are several MBCT depression applications:
  • Pregnant women with a history of depression and a fear of post-partum depression have found MBCT to lower the depression risk. 
  • Mindfulness program for teens reduced the risk of depression in 3 million angst-filled teens - 12.5% of US aged 12 to 17 has at least one depressive episode.  MBCT proved more effective for patients with a history of childhood trauma.  Again Goleman & Davidson stress more replication is required. 
Stanford's James Gross & Philippe Golden studied the impact of MBSR is mindfulness-based stress reduction.  Jon Kabat-Zinn developed the stress reduction clinic where techniques are taught to develop mindfulness and integrate it and a personal vision of success into every day experience.  In Kabat-Zinn's book Full Catastrophe Living a model of stress is described that allows stressful events to be coped with effectively.  Strategies are described for a wide variety of specific situations including medical symptoms, physical and emotional pain, anxiety and panic, time pressures, relationships, work, food, and external events.   on social anxiety is a common emotional problem affecting 15 million people in the US, which can be reflected in stage fright, or shyness at gatherings, Goleman & Davidson explain.  Sufferers are highly critical of themselves: 'people always judge me,' or 'I am incompetent,' or 'I am ashamed of my shyness.'  The disorder responds well to MBSR. 
disorder in small groups of students.  The study group did 8 weeks of MBSR, monitored in an fMRI machine at the beginning and end of the program, while in the machine they were presented with their social stressors as they practiced mindful-breathing or mental-arithmetic.  The mindful breathing lowered activity in the amygdala contains > 12 distinct areas: Central, Lateral.  It receives simple signals from the lower parts of the brain: pain from the PAG; and abstract complex information from the highest areas: Disgust, heart rate, and suffering from the insula cortex, allowing it to orchestrate emotion.  It connects strongly to attention focusing networks.  It sends signals to almost every other part of the brain, including to the decision making circuitry of the frontal lobes.  It has high levels of D(1) dopamine receptors.  During extreme fear the amygdala drives the hippocampus into fear learning.  It outputs directly to subcortical reflexive motor pathways when speed is required.  Its central nucleus projects to the BNST.  It signals the locus ceruleus.  It directly signals area 25.  The amygdala:
  • Promotes aggression.  Stimulating the amygdala promotes rage.  It converts anger into aggression and when impaired it impacts the ability to detect angry facial expressions.  
  • Participates in disgust
  • Perceives fear promoting stimuli, focusing our attention on these.  In PTSD sufferers the Amygdala overreacts to mildly fearful stimuli and is slow to calm down and the amygdala expands in size over a period of months.  Fear is processed by the lateral nucleus which serves as the input from various senses, and the central nucleus which outputs to the brain stem (central grey - freezing, lateral hypothalamus - blood pressure, activates paraventricular hypothalamus => crf -> hormone adjustments). 
  • Has lots of receptors for and is highly sensitive to glucocorticoids.  Stress inhibits the GABA interneurons in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) allowing the excitatory glutamate releasing neurons to excite more. 
  • Is sensitive to unsettling/uncertain social situations where it promotes anxiety and makes us distracted.  It is also interested in uncertain but potentially painful situations.  The amygdala contributes to social and emotional decision making where the BLA supports rejecting an unacceptable offer, as allowed in the Ultimatum Game, by injecting implicit mistrust and vigilance, generating an anger driven rejection that is used as punishment.  The amygdala is very rapidly excited by subliminal signals from the thalamus of outgroup skin color.  The amygdala subsequently tips social emotions against outgroups unless restrained by the frontal lobe or influenced by subliminal priming to prioritize inclusion.  The fast path from the thalamus rapidly but inaccurately signals its identified a weapon. 
  • Sees suffering of others as increasingly salient with loving-kindness meditation practice, Goleman & Davidson explain. 
  • Promotes male, but not female, sexual motivation when it is an uncertain potential pleasure. 
  • Responds to the longing for uncertain potential pleasures and fear that the reward will not be worth it if it happens.  The amygdala turns off during orgasm. 
  • Uses but is not directly involved in vision.  
and increased activity in the the attentional networks is Seeley's attentional salience network.  Attention must be directed to pertinent stimuli as behavioral choices are weighed against shifting conditions, background homeostatic demands and context.  Seeley argues the brain must control posterior sensorimotor representations and maintain relevant data in mind until actions are selected.  The network includes: sites of sustained attention and working memory - DLPFC, Lateral cortex, response selection - dorsomedial frontal/pre-SMA, response suppression - ventrolateral prefrontal cortex; with no subcortical connectivity to autonomic control sites.  .  The patients reported less stress reactivity. 

Loving-kindness meditation for trauma
PTSD is post-traumatic stress disorder, an induced level of stress that is so troubling to the brain that it avoids processing it, change that is necessary if the stress is to be dissipated by the normal brain processes.  The hippocampus loses volume.  The damage to the hippocampus results in: flashbacks, becoming emotionally numb and withdrawn from other people, irritability, jumpiness, being more aggressive, having trouble sleeping and avoidance of the sensory experiences associated with the initial event.  The amygdala responds to overwhelming trauma by repeatedly grabbing attention to encourage response to the emergency, increases in volume and is hyperactive and anxious.  As a result it remains in a heightened state, resulting in fear of recall and further stress.  PTSD is often accompanied by depression and substance abuse.  It is now being realized that PTSD can be introduced into patients by traumatic treatment regimens such as ICU procedures.  Traumatic head injuries, seen in athletes and soldiers can be reflected in PTSD and can subsequently become associated with prion based dementia.  Some people are genetically predisposed to PTSD, with identical twins responding similarly.  Another risk factor for PTSD is childhood trauma which can induce epi-genetic changes to stress processing.  PTSD can be managed with CBT, and it also responds to propranolol while recalling the traumatic event, where the drug undermines the memory reconsolidation process. 
sufferers have been provided mindfulness is an active meditative state of non-doing, attentively seeking each 'present moment' with one's body and mind 'being' at rest and so cultivating awareness, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn.  Some traditions define it as observing when the mind wanders.  Others use it to refer to the floating awareness that witnesses whatever happens in our experience without judging or otherwise reacting, explain Goleman & Davidson.  The thinking mind usually spends a lot of time relating to the future and past which Kabat-Zinn argues limits its ability to become fully aware of the present.  In times of stress those thoughts are so overpowering that they crowd out awareness and appreciation of the present.  Mindfulness shifts attention to calming internal feelings.  It allows review and prioritization of thoughts as they are recognized.  Major attitude based pillars of successful mindfulness are: impartial to judging, patience, a beginner's mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance of seeing things the way they are and letting go.  An awareness of the body's state can be built with tools including: inquiry, naming; from Yogi's attention to:
  • Breathing - which is a proxy for the environmental situation and through its rhythms is a model of our emotional state.  Attention to breathing reminds people to feel their bodies too.  Belly breathing is particularly relaxing.  
  • Sitting - erect with head, neck and back aligned vertically.  Then attend to breathing moving back to it each time you observe the mind has wandered.  When the body becomes uncomfortable, direct attention to the discomfort, observe and welcome it.  
  • Experience our body - rather than model, judge or hate it relative to an ideal - with a body scan. 
  • Hatha yoga - very slow stretching and strengthening exercises with moment-to-moment awareness supports being in your body.  
  • Walking meditation - Intentionally attend to the immediate experience of walking.  
meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
.  But that set of techniques may not appeal to a PTSD sufferer.  However, when they can persist with loving-kindness practices holding tender, compassionate, feelings towards a slowly widening circle of people: family we love, friends, people we don't know, people we dislike, every person; recognizing the oneness, where everyone desires happiness.  Goleman & Davidson describe the neuroscience involved with this mediation.  Research comparing two groups: one practicing loving-kindness meditation, the other acting as a control group just learning the theory; only the meditators showed a reduced implicit bias against out-groups.  They also studied masters - Tibetan yogis. 
practice it helped generate feelings connecting the sufferer to earlier happy memories of the patient's life.  Goleman & Davidson are keen to see rigorous active control validation of the benefit.  The 30% of veterans who suffer from PTSD would like an alternative to the drugs with their problematic side effects. 

Dark nights
Goleman & Davidson warn that some meditators experience a troubling experience, a dark night: morbid doubt, self-loathing, anger is an emotion which protects a person who has been cheated by a supposed friend.  When the exploitation of the altruism is discovered, Steven Pinker explains, the result is a drive for moralistic aggression to hurt the cheater.  Anger is mostly experienced as a rapid wave that then quickly dissipates.  When it is repressed, for example by a strong moral sense (superego), it can sustain, inducing long term stress. 
, guilt is an emotion which alerts us to the risk of cheating on a friend.  To be culturally effective the individuals must have respect for the law.  Guilt is associated with activation of the posterior cingulate cortex. 
, and anxiety is manifested in the amygdala mediating inhibition of dopamine rewards.  Anxiety disorders are now seen as a related cluster, including PTSD, panic attacks, and phobias.  Major anxiety, is typically episodic, correlated with increased activity in the amygdala, results in elevated glucocorticoids and reduces hippocampal dendrite & spine density.  Some estrogen receptor variants are associated with anxiety in women.  Women are four times more likely to suffer from anxiety.  Louann Brizendine concludes this helps prepare mothers, so they are ready to protect their children.  Michael Pollan concludes anxiety is fear of the future.  Sufferers of mild autism often develop anxiety disorders.  Treatments for anxiety differ.  50 to 70% of people with generalized anxiety respond to drugs increasing serotonin concentrations, where there is relief from symptoms: worry, guilt; linked to depression, which are treated with SSRIs (Prozac).  Cognitive anxiety (extreme for worries and anxious thoughts) is also helped by yoga.  But many fear-related disorders respond better to psychotherapy: psychoanalysis, and intensive CBT.  Tara Brach notes that genuine freedom from fear is enabled by taking refuge. 
.  Some can move past this state of mind with meta-awareness is being able to track the quality of one's own awareness, according to Goleman & Davidson who consider it a facet of attention.  It is supported by the DLPFC.  They assert that loving-kindness meditation, operating on compassion, can enhance the function of the DLPFC and lessen unconscious bias. 
but others remain trapped.  The percentage of people who practice at prolonged retreats and suffer a dark night is not known.  Goleman & Davidson highlight the dark night project which brings aid to such people.

Meditation as metatherapy
Goleman had proposed using meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
in psychotherapy in his first article on the subject: meditation as metatherapy.  Jack Kornfield, also liked the idea.  He went on to found the Insight Meditation society in Barre, Massachusetts and Spirit Rock in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Kornfield and others have advocated for meditation to be used in psychotherapy.  Goleman & Davidson admit that the research establishment is still skeptical of the proposal. 

A Yogi's Brain
Davidson was part of a research team that visited the Dalai Lama's headquarters in the Himalayan foothills in 1992.  Bringing all the equipment to monitor meditator's brains they wished to study some of the lojong masters identified to them by the Dalai Lama.  But, even with such an introduction, the masters were not interested!  Still Davidson concluded the experience was beneficial.  He came to realize, the masters were interested in showing how what they did might influence others. 

The real catalyst, an infrastructure amplifier. 
was Matthieu Ricard, a molecular biologist tutored by Francois Jacob, who subsequently became a monk.  When the Dalai Lama asked Davidson to test meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
rigorously, Ricard was uniquely experienced, and motivated, to help.  He became an experimental subject and collaborated with the researchers on refining the methods being used.  Ricard was also well connected with the Tibetan meditation masters, who trusted him.  Once he assured them their efforts would be worthwhile, in researching compassion indicates an emotional state where resonance with someone else's distress leads one to help them.  The Dalai Lama stresses we must feel compassion for ourselves and others.  Tara Brach sees compassion as our capacity to relate in a tender and sympathetic way to what we perceive.  Meditation focused on feeling love for the suffering, strengthens compassion by activating the neuron networks for parental love for a child: ACC, insula, striatum, PAG, orbitofrontal cortex; and inducing a reduction in areas responsible for negative emotions. 
, and integrating meditation into Western culture is how we do and think about things, transmitted by non-genetic means as defined by Frans de Waal.  CAS theory views cultures as operating via memetic schemata evolved by memetic operators to support a cultural superorganism.  Evolutionary psychology asserts that human culture reflects adaptations generated while hunting and gathering.  Dehaene views culture as essentially human, shaped by exaptations and reading, transmitted with support of the neuronal workspace and stabilized by neuronal recycling.  Damasio notes prokaryotes and social insects have developed cultural social behaviors.  Sapolsky argues that parents must show children how to transform their genetically derived capabilities into a culturally effective toolset.  He is interested in the broad differences across cultures of: Life expectancy, GDP, Death in childbirth, Violence, Chronic bullying, Gender equality, Happiness, Response to cheating, Individualist or collectivist, Enforcing honor, Approach to hierarchy; illustrating how different a person's life will be depending on the culture where they are raised.  Culture:
  • Is deployed during pregnancy & childhood, with parental mediation.  Nutrients, immune messages and hormones all affect the prenatal brain.  Hormones: Testosterone with anti-Mullerian hormone masculinizes the brain by entering target cells and after conversion to estrogen binding to intracellular estrogen receptors; have organizational effects producing lifelong changes.  Parenting style typically produces adults who adopt the same approach.  And mothering style can alter gene regulation in the fetus in ways that transfer epigenetically to future generations!  PMS symptoms vary by culture. 
  • Is also significantly transmitted to children by their peers during play.  So parents try to control their children's peer group.  
  • Is transmitted to children by their neighborhoods, tribes, nations etc. 
  • Influences the parenting style that is considered appropriate. 
  • Can transform dominance into honor.  There are ecological correlates of adopting honor cultures.  Parents in honor cultures are typically authoritarian. 
  • Is strongly adapted across a meta-ethnic frontier according to Turchin.  
  • Across Europe was shaped by the Carolingian empire. 
  • Can provide varying levels of support for innovation.  Damasio suggests culture is influenced by feelings: 
    • As motives for intellectual creation: prompting detection and diagnosis of homeostatic deficiencies, identifying desirable states worthy of creative effort.
    • As monitors of the success and failure of cultural instruments and practices
    • As participants in the negotiation of adjustments required by the cultural process over time 
  • Produces consciousness according to Dennet. 
, these masters happily became experimental subjects at the lab in Madison, Wisconsin. 

The scientists were hoping to obtain details of the biology of each monk's meditating brain and the subjective assessment of what was happening.  Because of the inclusion of the monks' inner experiences, Francisco Varela was keen to have a bridge between the two, and Ricard had the experience to provide this grounded theory: a well-trained
Computational theory of the mind and evolutionary psychology provide Steven Pinker with a framework on which to develop his psychological arguments about the mind and its relationship to the brain.  Humans captured a cognitive niche by natural selection 'building out' specialized aspects of their bodies and brains resulting in a system of mental organs we call the mind. 

He garnishes and defends the framework with findings from psychology regarding: The visual system - an example of natural selections solutions to the sensory challenges of inverse modeling of our environment; Intensions - where he highlights the challenges of hunter gatherers - making sense of the objects they perceive and predicting what they imply and natural selections powerful solutions; Emotions - which Pinker argues are essential to human prioritizing and decision making; Relationships - natural selection's strategies for coping with the most dangerous competitors, other people.  He helps us understand marriage, friendships and war. 

These conclusions allow him to understand the development and maintenance of higher callings: Art, Music, Literature, Humor, Religion, & Philosophy; and develop a position on the meaning of life. 

Complex adaptive system (CAS) modeling allows RSS to frame Pinker's arguments within humanity's current situation, induced by powerful evolved amplifiers: Globalization, Cliodynamics, The green revolution and resource bottlenecks; melding his powerful predictions of the drivers of human behavior with system wide constraints.  The implications are discussed. 

mind
and expertise in loving-kindness meditation practices holding tender, compassionate, feelings towards a slowly widening circle of people: family we love, friends, people we don't know, people we dislike, every person; recognizing the oneness, where everyone desires happiness.  Goleman & Davidson describe the neuroscience involved with this mediation.  Research comparing two groups: one practicing loving-kindness meditation, the other acting as a control group just learning the theory; only the meditators showed a reduced implicit bias against out-groups.  They also studied masters - Tibetan yogis. 
practice.  As they noted, the success of the third person assessment depends on the instrument measuring a valid correlate of the meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
activity.  In 1992 these instruments had been primitive and did not generate accurate metrics.  As the experimenters became experienced meditators the design could be improved iteratively.  The Dalai Lama helped this process when he encouraged Emory University to add a Tibetan-language science curriculum to the studies of monks in monasteries. 

Mingyur Rinpoche, was the first Tibetan master to visit Davidson's lab and be probed with EEG is electroencephalography, the recording of brain waves.  With 256 electrodes it provides high-quality digital recordings of brain activity with millisecond resolution over the whole head.  It tracks the time course of neural firing.  It complements fMRI.  MEG is considered analogous but even better.  The awake brain emits a variety of frequencies classified in EEGs as alpha (8-13 hertz), beta (13 - 30 Hz), gamma (30 and higher) and theta (5 cycles a second).  Visual stimuli result in enhanced gamma-band activity within 200 milliseconds.  For consciously perceived stimuli it remained sustained while it died out over time for unseen masked stimuli.  Theta band is used by the cortex for long distance messaging.  .  Over the years his bald head encouraged the skin of his scalp to thicken, reducing the electrical conductivity.  Luckily, technical problems do not impact a master of compassion indicates an emotional state where resonance with someone else's distress leads one to help them.  The Dalai Lama stresses we must feel compassion for ourselves and others.  Tara Brach sees compassion as our capacity to relate in a tender and sympathetic way to what we perceive.  Meditation focused on feeling love for the suffering, strengthens compassion by activating the neuron networks for parental love for a child: ACC, insula, striatum, PAG, orbitofrontal cortex; and inducing a reduction in areas responsible for negative emotions. 
who had spent 62,000 hours meditating.  Once measurements could begin the master iterated between a minute of loving-kindness meditation practices holding tender, compassionate, feelings towards a slowly widening circle of people: family we love, friends, people we don't know, people we dislike, every person; recognizing the oneness, where everyone desires happiness.  Goleman & Davidson describe the neuroscience involved with this mediation.  Research comparing two groups: one practicing loving-kindness meditation, the other acting as a control group just learning the theory; only the meditators showed a reduced implicit bias against out-groups.  They also studied masters - Tibetan yogis. 
and thirty seconds of rest.  Each time the meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
started a huge signal, is an emergent capability which is used by cooperating agents to support coordination & rival agents to support control and dominance.  In eukaryotic cells signalling is used extensively.  A signal interacts with the exposed region of a receptor molecule inducing it to change shape to an activated form.  Chains of enzymes interact with the activated receptor relaying, amplifying and responding to the signal to change the state of the cell.  Many of the signalling pathways pass through the nuclear membrane and interact with the DNA to change its state.  Enzymes sensitive to the changes induced in the DNA then start to operate generating actions including sending further signals.  Cell signalling is reviewed by Helmreich.  Signalling is a fundamental aspect of CAS theory and is discussed from the abstract CAS perspective in signals and sensors.  In AWF the eukaryotic signalling architecture has been abstracted in a codelet based implementation.  To be credible signals must be hard to fake.  To be effective they must be easily detected by the target recipient.  To be efficient they are low cost to produce and destroy. 
was recorded.  The spike diminished during the rest periods.  The journal article reporting the experiment has been cited over 1,100 times.  Subsequently Mingyur's meditation was probed with fMRI is functional magnetic resonance imaging.  Seiji Ogawa leveraged the coupling of neuronal circuit activity and blood flow through the associated glial cells to build a 3 dimensional picture of brain cell activity.  As haemoglobin gives up its oxygen to support the neural activity it becomes magnetic and acts as a signal detected by the fMRI.  fMRI easily visualizes the state of activity in the living human brain at millimeter resolution, up to several times a second but it cannot track the time course of neural firing so it is augmented with EEG.   resulting in his empathy is the capability to relate to another person from their perspective.  It is implemented by spindle neurons.  Empathy towards others is controlled by the right-hemisphere supramarginal gyrus.  Empathy is context dependently mediated by estrogen.  It develops over time: Piaget's preoperational stage includes rudimentary empathy, Theory of mind supports the development; initially feeling someone's pain as one integrated being, then for them and eventually as them.  In adults, when someone else is hurt the anterior cingulate cortex, amygdala & insula activates projecting [scapegoating] to the vmPFC.  If the pain is physical the PAG activates and motor neurons for the area where the other person was injured.  The intertwining of the ACC amygdala & insula in adults results in attribution of fault even when there is none which can make it hard to step in and actually help.  But in seven-year-olds the activation is concrete: PAG and sensory & motor cortexes with minimal coupling to the rudimentary vmPFC.  In older children the vmPFC is coupled to limbic structures.  Ten to twelve year olds abstract empathy to classes of people.  Brizendine asserts young girls develop empathy earlier than boys, because their evolved greater neuronal investment in communication and emotion networks.  Year old girls are much more responsive to the distress of other people than boys are.  At 18 months girls are experiencing infantile puberty.  By adolescence the vmPFC is coupled to theory of mind regions and intentional harm induces disgust via the amygdala.  Sapolsky explains adolescent boys are utilitarian and tend to accept inequality more than girls do.  But both sexes accept inequality as the way it is.  Sociopaths do not develop empathy.   network being observed as 700 - 800 times more active than any prior subject. 

Goleman & Davidson compare this experimental approach of Valera, aligned to the expertise of the Tibetan expert, with additional experiments, performed at Harvard, which followed standard scientific method.  The experiments were designed by the researcher to test a hypothesis without any influence from the subject.  They looked for extrasensory perception and visualization of an image.  Mingyur Rinpoche is not a master in these areas.  In his practice he lets go of all thoughts and does not generate any particular image.  And while a meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
master Mingyur does not claim to be supernatural.  For Goleman & Davidson the standard approach wasted an opportunity to explore an exceptional brain. 

Mingyur Rinpoche returned to Davidson's lab in June 2016, after spending four and a half years as a wandering mendicant.  They applied the latest fMRI machine to record his compassion indicates an emotional state where resonance with someone else's distress leads one to help them.  The Dalai Lama stresses we must feel compassion for ourselves and others.  Tara Brach sees compassion as our capacity to relate in a tender and sympathetic way to what we perceive.  Meditation focused on feeling love for the suffering, strengthens compassion by activating the neuron networks for parental love for a child: ACC, insula, striatum, PAG, orbitofrontal cortex; and inducing a reduction in areas responsible for negative emotions. 
.  That allowed the lab to compare data from his 2002, 2010 and this 2016 visit.  And they could use the anatomy to compare Mingyur's brains aging to other subjects.  His brain appears to be aging more slowly - 8 years younger than his 41 chronological years of age. 

Other meditation masters have been studied in Davidson's lab, backing up the results obtained with Mingyur. 

Hidden Treasure
Twenty-one yogis, including Mingyur Rinpoche, have been formally tested at Davidson's lab.  All had spent over 12,000 hours meditating.  They had all completed one, or more, three-year three-month and three-day retreat, where they formally practiced meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
for eight or more hours every day. 

In the lab each yogi performed four one minute cycles of three different kinds of meditation: compassion, openness or focus; separated by 30 second rest periods.  The data was then analyzed for many months.  The meditative states were entered at will and each type was marked by a neural signature.  And it was eventually realized all the Yogi's resting
Computational theory of the mind and evolutionary psychology provide Steven Pinker with a framework on which to develop his psychological arguments about the mind and its relationship to the brain.  Humans captured a cognitive niche by natural selection 'building out' specialized aspects of their bodies and brains resulting in a system of mental organs we call the mind. 

He garnishes and defends the framework with findings from psychology regarding: The visual system - an example of natural selections solutions to the sensory challenges of inverse modeling of our environment; Intensions - where he highlights the challenges of hunter gatherers - making sense of the objects they perceive and predicting what they imply and natural selections powerful solutions; Emotions - which Pinker argues are essential to human prioritizing and decision making; Relationships - natural selection's strategies for coping with the most dangerous competitors, other people.  He helps us understand marriage, friendships and war. 

These conclusions allow him to understand the development and maintenance of higher callings: Art, Music, Literature, Humor, Religion, & Philosophy; and develop a position on the meaning of life. 

Complex adaptive system (CAS) modeling allows RSS to frame Pinker's arguments within humanity's current situation, induced by powerful evolved amplifiers: Globalization, Cliodynamics, The green revolution and resource bottlenecks; melding his powerful predictions of the drivers of human behavior with system wide constraints.  The implications are discussed. 

minds
also displayed elevated 'high-amplitude' gamma oscillations are observed as 40 Hz neural activity waves associated with conscious access.  They link different brain regions during alignment and integration of emergent memories aggregated from models in different cortical regions: occipital, temporal, somatosensory, insula, olfactory; meshing 'images' of sight, smells, taste, feel and sound into a single experience.  Yogi's gamma rhythms can last for over a minute, instead of the more typical fifth of a second explain Goleman and Davidson. 
.  These even occur while they sleep facilitates salient memory formation and removal of non-salient memories.  The five different stages of the nightly sleep cycles support different aspects of memory formation.  The sleep stages follow Pre-sleep and include: Stage one characterized by light sleep and lasting 10 minutes, Stage two where theta waves and sleep spindles occur, Stage three and Stage four together represent deep slow-wave sleep (SWS) with delta waves, Stage five is REM sleep; sleep cycles last between 90-110 minutes each and as the night progresses SWS times reduce and REM times increase.   Sleep includes the operation of synapse synthesis and maintenance through DNA based activity including membrane trafficking, synaptic vesicle recycling, myelin structural protein formation and cholesterol and protein synthesis.  Sleep also controls inflammation (Jan 2019)  Sleep deprivation undermines the thalamus & nucleus accumbens management of pain. 
.  Goleman and Davidson explain the brain displays five main frequencies of wave detected in an EEG is electroencephalography, the recording of brain waves.  With 256 electrodes it provides high-quality digital recordings of brain activity with millisecond resolution over the whole head.  It tracks the time course of neural firing.  It complements fMRI.  MEG is considered analogous but even better.  The awake brain emits a variety of frequencies classified in EEGs as alpha (8-13 hertz), beta (13 - 30 Hz), gamma (30 and higher) and theta (5 cycles a second).  Visual stimuli result in enhanced gamma-band activity within 200 milliseconds.  For consciously perceived stimuli it remained sustained while it died out over time for unseen masked stimuli.  Theta band is used by the cortex for long distance messaging.  : Delta are slow frequency, 1 - 4 cycles per second, brain waves occurring during deep slow wave sleep. 
, Theta are brain waves of five cycles a second, that can occur during drowsiness and stage two of sleep. 
, Alpha are brain waves of 8 - 13 hertz that occur during periods of relaxation, long distance signalling in the cortex and during presleep. 
, Beta are 13 - 30 Hertz frequency brain waves that occur during thinking, alertness and concentration. 
and Gamma are observed as 40 Hz neural activity waves associated with conscious access.  They link different brain regions during alignment and integration of emergent memories aggregated from models in different cortical regions: occipital, temporal, somatosensory, insula, olfactory; meshing 'images' of sight, smells, taste, feel and sound into a single experience.  Yogi's gamma rhythms can last for over a minute, instead of the more typical fifth of a second explain Goleman and Davidson. 


The yogis subjectively experience an open, rich awareness throughout their daily lives, which they describe as spacious and vast, fixation free and crystal clear.  The long lived gamma oscillation is an altered trait reflect changes to four neural pathways that Goleman & Davidson identify in Altered Traits.  These networks support: stress reactions - induced experimentally with the TSST, compassion and empathy, attention, sense of self; and are altered by different types of meditation.  An altered state refers to changes that occur only during meditation.  All meditation has the contemplative goal of altered traits leading to being free of suffering by revealing our Bhudda nature.  An altered trait indicates that the practice of meditation has tranformed the brain so the induced changes are seen before beginning to meditate.  Goleman & Davidson developed a robust behavioral measure for attention: the ability to maintain focus while counting breaths.  The test requires pressing a keyboard's down arrow on each outbreath except on the nineth when a different key is pressed and counting restarts at one.  The objective metric is the difference between the subjective count and the actual number of breaths taken.  .  The thousands of hours of practice builds this refers to lasting changes to the brain that occur throughout the life span of the organism.  Many aspects of the brain can be altered into adulthood.  Almost anything in the nervous system can change in response to sustained stimulus.  And in a different environment the changes will often reverse.  The changes include:
  • The strength of dendritic input alters due to genetic, neural and hormonal signals
    • Hebb notes that memories require strengthening of preexisting synapses.  Glutamate responsive neurons' post synaptic dendritic spines have two types of receptor: non-NMDA and NMDA.  NMDA channels are responsible for this strengthening mechanism.  LTP then occurs to prolong the increase in excitability of the synapse. 
    • The LTP operation results in calcium diffusion which triggers new spine formation in adjacent parts of the dendrite.  Eventually that can stimulate dentrite growth enabling more neurons to connect. 
    • Short term stress promotes hippocampal LTP.  
    • Sustained stress promotes:
      • Hippocampal & frontal cortex  LTD & suppresses LTP.  Subsequent reductions in NCAM then reduce dendrite and synapse density. 
      • Amygdala LTP and suppresses LTD boosting fear conditioning.  It increases BDNF levels and expands dendrites in the BLA. 
    • Depression and anxiety reduce hippocampal dendrite and spine number by reducing BDNF. 
  • The axon's conditions for
    • Initiating an action potential. 
      • Progesterone boosts GABA-ergic neurons response to GABA decreasing the excitability of other neurons over a period of hours. 
    • Duration of a neuron's refractory period.  Testosterone shortens the refractory period of amygdala and amygdala target neurons over a period of hours. 
  • Synaptic connections being constantly removed and recreated
  • Synapses being created or destroyed.  Stimulation generates additional dendritic spines which become associated with a nearby axon terminal and within weeks a synapse forms.  The synapse then contributes calcium diffusion through LTP triggering more spine formation.  When dendritic spines recede synapses disappear. 
  • Cortical maps change to reflect alterations in the inputs and outputs from the body. 
  • Birth of brain cells in many areas of adult brains: the hippocampus (where 3% are replaced each month) and olfactory bulb and lesser amounts in the cortex. 
  • Restructuring after brain damage including axonal plasticity.  Distant rerouting of axons is observed but no mechanism has been identified yet. 
  • Vision is plastic in predators, where the eyes are moved during final development.  Dehaene argues for neuronal recycling supporting reading.  
altered trait and enables a state-by-trait effect refers to temporary state changes that are only seen in those who display enduring altered traits--long-term meditators and yogis according to Goleman & Davidson. 
effect.  The yogis are explicitly instructed to mingle the state of open presence with their everyday life blurring the state and trait. 

The experimental investigation of yogis practicing loving kindness meditation practices holding tender, compassionate, feelings towards a slowly widening circle of people: family we love, friends, people we don't know, people we dislike, every person; recognizing the oneness, where everyone desires happiness.  Goleman & Davidson describe the neuroscience involved with this mediation.  Research comparing two groups: one practicing loving-kindness meditation, the other acting as a control group just learning the theory; only the meditators showed a reduced implicit bias against out-groups.  They also studied masters - Tibetan yogis. 
(compassion indicates an emotional state where resonance with someone else's distress leads one to help them.  The Dalai Lama stresses we must feel compassion for ourselves and others.  Tara Brach sees compassion as our capacity to relate in a tender and sympathetic way to what we perceive.  Meditation focused on feeling love for the suffering, strengthens compassion by activating the neuron networks for parental love for a child: ACC, insula, striatum, PAG, orbitofrontal cortex; and inducing a reduction in areas responsible for negative emotions. 
), included a control group, and randomly played: happy is an emotion which functions to mobilize the mind to seek capabilities and resources that support Darwinian fitness.  Today happiness is associated with Epicurean ideas that were rediscovered during the renaissance and promoted by Thomas Jefferson.  But natural selection has 'designed' happiness to support hunter-gatherer fitness in the African savanna.  It is assessed: Relative to other's situations, Based on small gains or losses relative to one's current situation; and so what makes us [un-]happy and our responses can seem a counter-productive treadmill.  For Pleistocene hunter-gatherers in the savanna there were many ways for losses to undermine fitness and so losses still make us very unhappy.  Smoking, drinking and excessive eating were not significant and so don't make us unhappy even though they impact longevity.  , neutral or suffering; sounds while the subjects underwent fMRI is functional magnetic resonance imaging.  Seiji Ogawa leveraged the coupling of neuronal circuit activity and blood flow through the associated glial cells to build a 3 dimensional picture of brain cell activity.  As haemoglobin gives up its oxygen to support the neural activity it becomes magnetic and acts as a signal detected by the fMRI.  fMRI easily visualizes the state of activity in the living human brain at millimeter resolution, up to several times a second but it cannot track the time course of neural firing so it is augmented with EEG.   scans.  For the yogis, sounds of suffering generated higher activation during compassion than during rest.  The yogis, who are all trained in preparedness for action, the scans showed a stronger posterior cingulate (PCC) is a brain region where invariant-location cells dwell.  It is closely connected to the parahippocampal gyrus.  It activates during self-focused thought.  University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness research director, Judson Brewer, sees the PCC participation in: distraction, wandering attention, thinking about ourselves, liking an immoral choice, feeling guilty, and craving.  Its activation was reduced by mindfulness meditation explain Goleman & Davidson. 
to PFC is prefrontal cortex which is:
  • The front part of the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex.  It evolved most recently.  During adolescence when the PFC is still deploying, older brain agents provide equivalent strategies: ventral striatum.  The PFC has been implicated in planning, working memory: dorsolateral; decision making: Orbitofrontal cortex; and social behavior.  It regulates feelings.  Different PFC circuits track internal reward driven strategies and externally signalled advice.  The PFC chooses between conflicting options, letting go or restraint, especially between cognition and emotions.  It imposes an overarching strategy for managing working memory.  It is essential for thinking about multiple items with different labels.  It includes neurons that are interested in particular sub-categories: Dog, Cat.  Once it has made a decision it signals the rest of the frontal lobe just behind it.  Glucocorticoids decrease excitability of the PFC.  
This page discusses the effect of the network on the agents participating in a complex adaptive system (CAS).  Small world and scale free networks are considered. 
network
linkage than for the controls.  The PFC was inhibiting (down regulating) fearful is an emotion which prepares the body for time sensitive action: Blood is sent to the muscles from the gut and skin, Adrenalin is released stimulating: Fuel to be released from the liver, Blood is encouraged to clot, and Face is wide-eyed and fearful.  The short-term high priority goal, experienced as a sense of urgency, is to flee, fight or deflect the danger.  There are both 'innate' - really high priority learning - which are mediated by the central amygdala and learned fears which are mediated by the BLA which learns to fear a stimulus and then signals the central amygdala.  Tara Brach notes we experience fear as a painfully constricted throat, chest and belly, and racing heart.  The mind can build stories of the future which include fearful situations making us anxious about current ideas and actions that we associate with the potential future scenario.  And it can associate traumatic events from early childhood with our being at fault.  Consequent assumptions of our being unworthy can result in shame and fear of losing friendships.  The mechanism for human fear was significantly evolved to protect us in the African savanna.  This does not align perfectly with our needs in current environments: U.S. Grant was unusually un-afraid of the noise or risk of guns and trusted his horses' judgment, which mostly benefited his agency as a modern soldier. 
thoughts: 'what will happen to me?'
The brain response of the yogis was far more active than for the beginners.  For both groups networks activated linked to seeing another's perspective and the amygdala contains > 12 distinct areas: Central, Lateral.  It receives simple signals from the lower parts of the brain: pain from the PAG; and abstract complex information from the highest areas: Disgust, heart rate, and suffering from the insula cortex, allowing it to orchestrate emotion.  It connects strongly to attention focusing networks.  It sends signals to almost every other part of the brain, including to the decision making circuitry of the frontal lobes.  It has high levels of D(1) dopamine receptors.  During extreme fear the amygdala drives the hippocampus into fear learning.  It outputs directly to subcortical reflexive motor pathways when speed is required.  Its central nucleus projects to the BNST.  It signals the locus ceruleus.  It directly signals area 25.  The amygdala:
  • Promotes aggression.  Stimulating the amygdala promotes rage.  It converts anger into aggression and when impaired it impacts the ability to detect angry facial expressions.  
  • Participates in disgust
  • Perceives fear promoting stimuli, focusing our attention on these.  In PTSD sufferers the Amygdala overreacts to mildly fearful stimuli and is slow to calm down and the amygdala expands in size over a period of months.  Fear is processed by the lateral nucleus which serves as the input from various senses, and the central nucleus which outputs to the brain stem (central grey - freezing, lateral hypothalamus - blood pressure, activates paraventricular hypothalamus => crf -> hormone adjustments). 
  • Has lots of receptors for and is highly sensitive to glucocorticoids.  Stress inhibits the GABA interneurons in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) allowing the excitatory glutamate releasing neurons to excite more. 
  • Is sensitive to unsettling/uncertain social situations where it promotes anxiety and makes us distracted.  It is also interested in uncertain but potentially painful situations.  The amygdala contributes to social and emotional decision making where the BLA supports rejecting an unacceptable offer, as allowed in the Ultimatum Game, by injecting implicit mistrust and vigilance, generating an anger driven rejection that is used as punishment.  The amygdala is very rapidly excited by subliminal signals from the thalamus of outgroup skin color.  The amygdala subsequently tips social emotions against outgroups unless restrained by the frontal lobe or influenced by subliminal priming to prioritize inclusion.  The fast path from the thalamus rapidly but inaccurately signals its identified a weapon. 
  • Sees suffering of others as increasingly salient with loving-kindness meditation practice, Goleman & Davidson explain. 
  • Promotes male, but not female, sexual motivation when it is an uncertain potential pleasure. 
  • Responds to the longing for uncertain potential pleasures and fear that the reward will not be worth it if it happens.  The amygdala turns off during orgasm. 
  • Uses but is not directly involved in vision.  
highlighted salient, Douglas Hofstadter controlled the amount of attention a Workspace object in Copycat would receive from codelets via its salience.  The more descriptions, analogous to geons, an object has and the more highly activated the nodes involved therein, the more important the object is.  Modulating this tendency is any relative lack of connections from the object to the rest of the objects in the Workspace.  Salience is a dynamic number that takes into account both these factors.  In Smiley the instantaneous salience of a Workspace's objects is calculated by itsalience.  In the brain salience is modeled by the salience networks. 
thoughts.  For the yogis only, the motor cortex is the posterior precentral gyrus region of the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex involved with planning, control and execution of voluntary movements. 
also activated enabling them to get ready to help the objects of their thoughts. 

The experimental investigation of yogis practicing open presence meditation, included a control group.  Both groups were subjected to a signal, is an emergent capability which is used by cooperating agents to support coordination & rival agents to support control and dominance.  In eukaryotic cells signalling is used extensively.  A signal interacts with the exposed region of a receptor molecule inducing it to change shape to an activated form.  Chains of enzymes interact with the activated receptor relaying, amplifying and responding to the signal to change the state of the cell.  Many of the signalling pathways pass through the nuclear membrane and interact with the DNA to change its state.  Enzymes sensitive to the changes induced in the DNA then start to operate generating actions including sending further signals.  Cell signalling is reviewed by Helmreich.  Signalling is a fundamental aspect of CAS theory and is discussed from the abstract CAS perspective in signals and sensors.  In AWF the eukaryotic signalling architecture has been abstracted in a codelet based implementation.  To be credible signals must be hard to fake.  To be effective they must be easily detected by the target recipient.  To be efficient they are low cost to produce and destroy. 
, warning of intense painful emerged as a mental experience, Damasio asserts, constructed by the mind using mapping structures and events provided by nervous systems.  But feeling pain is supported by older biological functions that support homeostasis.  These capabilities reflect the organism's underlying emotive processes that respond to wounds: antibacterial and analgesic chemical deployment, flinching and evading actions; that occur in organisms without nervous systems.  Later in evolution, after organisms with nervous systems were able to map non-neural events, the components of this complex response were 'imageable'.  Today, a wound induced by an internal disease is reported by old, unmyelinated C nerve fibers.  A wound created by an external cut is signalled by evolutionarily recent myelinated fibers that result in a sharp well-localized report, that initially flows to the dorsal root ganglia, then to the spinal cord, where the signals are mixed within the dorsal and ventral horns, and then are transmitted to the brain stem nuclei, thalamus and cerebral cortex.  The pain of a cut is located, but it is also felt through an emotive response that stops us in our tracks.  Pain amplifies the aggression response of people by interoceptive signalling of brain regions providing social emotions including the PAG projecting to the amygdala; making aggressive people more so and less aggressive people less so.  Fear of pain is a significant contributor to female anxiety.  Pain is the main reason people visit the ED in the US.  Pain is mediated by the thalamus and nucleus accumbens, unless undermined by sleep deprivation. 
heat that will be administered after 10 seconds.  For the control group the ten second warning generated anxiety is manifested in the amygdala mediating inhibition of dopamine rewards.  Anxiety disorders are now seen as a related cluster, including PTSD, panic attacks, and phobias.  Major anxiety, is typically episodic, correlated with increased activity in the amygdala, results in elevated glucocorticoids and reduces hippocampal dendrite & spine density.  Some estrogen receptor variants are associated with anxiety in women.  Women are four times more likely to suffer from anxiety.  Louann Brizendine concludes this helps prepare mothers, so they are ready to protect their children.  Michael Pollan concludes anxiety is fear of the future.  Sufferers of mild autism often develop anxiety disorders.  Treatments for anxiety differ.  50 to 70% of people with generalized anxiety respond to drugs increasing serotonin concentrations, where there is relief from symptoms: worry, guilt; linked to depression, which are treated with SSRIs (Prozac).  Cognitive anxiety (extreme for worries and anxious thoughts) is also helped by yoga.  But many fear-related disorders respond better to psychotherapy: psychoanalysis, and intensive CBT.  Tara Brach notes that genuine freedom from fear is enabled by taking refuge. 
and activated the subject's pain matrix.  But the yogis hardly responded to the ten second warning, and when heat was applied their brain's mostly activated in the sensory areas, signalling tingling, pressure and high heat - enduring state-by-trait effect refers to temporary state changes that are only seen in those who display enduring altered traits--long-term meditators and yogis according to Goleman & Davidson. 
changes acquired by training.  The emotional are emotions that are induced in response to other people's signals, are implemented by specific brain regions including: Prefrontal cortex, Insula cortex, Anterior cingulate cortex, Amygdala; receive lots of projections from interoceptive networks.  Sapolsky asserts in the moments just before we prioritize a consequential act the process is less rational and autonomous than we assume.  There are many significant signals from the prior seconds to minutes that effect social emotions:
  • Our brains respond subliminally to skin color very quickly: Amygdala activates, Fusiform face area activates; prior to the conscious stream activating the anterior cingulate and DLPFC which then inhibit the amygdala. 
  • Social dominance is culture independent and accurately subliminally assessed after a 40-millisecond exposure.  Stable status relations activate the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and DLPFC, while a dynamic situation also activates the amygdala.  
  • People who are subliminally judged attractive by the medial orbitofrontal cortex are considered kinder, smarter and more honest.  They are given more breaks. 
  • Faces and eyes in particular are most important subliminal cues.  They are monitored by the fusiform.  People respond more appropriately under the subliminal influence of eyes. 
  • Olfactory sensors send more direct projections to the limbic network than other sensory networks.  Pheromones signal fear activating the amygdala. 
  • Observing pain responses in others results in empathy even among young children. 
  • Words are important emotional signals providing unconscious priming of social responses.  Kahneman & Tversky demonstrated how the phrase '95% survival rate' is found to be a more acceptable choice than '5% death rate'.  Sapolsky notes that prosocial word priming fosters cooperation with antisocial word priming doing the opposite.  
  • Cultural objects such as visible: flags, team badges; subliminally modify in-group outgroup decisions. 
  • The presence of women in a situation alters the responses of men: Increased risk-taking, more focus on luxuries, increased aggression; in circumstances where conflict is already encouraged but not when status is achieved prosocially.  
  • Physical environment shapes behavior as demonstrated by Philip Zimbardo and leveraged in broken windows policing.  
  • Bodily adjustments to sensory structures introduce adaptive complexity, with the brain being influenced to become more sensitive and alter the sensor networks to make some more sensitive.  But these adaptations also vary culturally.  Collectivist cultures focus on a visual scene's surrounding contextual information while people from individualistic cultures focus on the focal object!  
regions: PAG is periaqueductal gray, an ancient core brain structure that projects pain sensations to the amygdala, has a high density of vasopressin and oxytocin receptors and a direct connection to the orbitofrontal cortex, potentially supporting maternal love.  It has a critical role in autonomic function, motivated behavior and responses to threats - the dorsal PAG activates during defensive behaviors: freezing immobility, running, jumping, increased blood pressure; while caudal ventrolateral PAG activation results in an immobile relaxed posture.  The PAG's enkephalin-producing cells suppress pain. 
; only activated a bit and all activation stopped immediately the heat was removed. 

The experimental investigation of yogis practicing mindfulness meditation is an active meditative state of non-doing, attentively seeking each 'present moment' with one's body and mind 'being' at rest and so cultivating awareness, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn.  Some traditions define it as observing when the mind wanders.  Others use it to refer to the floating awareness that witnesses whatever happens in our experience without judging or otherwise reacting, explain Goleman & Davidson.  The thinking mind usually spends a lot of time relating to the future and past which Kabat-Zinn argues limits its ability to become fully aware of the present.  In times of stress those thoughts are so overpowering that they crowd out awareness and appreciation of the present.  Mindfulness shifts attention to calming internal feelings.  It allows review and prioritization of thoughts as they are recognized.  Major attitude based pillars of successful mindfulness are: impartial to judging, patience, a beginner's mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance of seeing things the way they are and letting go.  An awareness of the body's state can be built with tools including: inquiry, naming; from Yogi's attention to:
  • Breathing - which is a proxy for the environmental situation and through its rhythms is a model of our emotional state.  Attention to breathing reminds people to feel their bodies too.  Belly breathing is particularly relaxing.  
  • Sitting - erect with head, neck and back aligned vertically.  Then attend to breathing moving back to it each time you observe the mind has wandered.  When the body becomes uncomfortable, direct attention to the discomfort, observe and welcome it.  
  • Experience our body - rather than model, judge or hate it relative to an ideal - with a body scan. 
  • Hatha yoga - very slow stretching and strengthening exercises with moment-to-moment awareness supports being in your body.  
  • Walking meditation - Intentionally attend to the immediate experience of walking.  
, included a control group.  These beginners find a few weeks of practice helps reduce the effort to perform meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
.  And the fMRI is functional magnetic resonance imaging.  Seiji Ogawa leveraged the coupling of neuronal circuit activity and blood flow through the associated glial cells to build a 3 dimensional picture of brain cell activity.  As haemoglobin gives up its oxygen to support the neural activity it becomes magnetic and acts as a signal detected by the fMRI.  fMRI easily visualizes the state of activity in the living human brain at millimeter resolution, up to several times a second but it cannot track the time course of neural firing so it is augmented with EEG.   scan shows reduced activity in the default mode network in Buckner's fMRI based analysis, supports using past experiences to plan for the future, navigate social interactions and maximize the utility of moments when attention is not focused on external events.  It includes the: Medial prefrontal cortex, Medial temporal cortex, Posterior cingulate cortex.  It is disrupted in autism, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease.  It becomes quiet under the influence of psychedelics that bind to the serotonin receptor.   including the posterior cingulate (PCC) is a brain region where invariant-location cells dwell.  It is closely connected to the parahippocampal gyrus.  It activates during self-focused thought.  University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness research director, Judson Brewer, sees the PCC participation in: distraction, wandering attention, thinking about ourselves, liking an immoral choice, feeling guilty, and craving.  Its activation was reduced by mindfulness meditation explain Goleman & Davidson. 
, during selfing meditations.  Removing the selfing reduces the effort required.  Long term meditators achieve undistracted awareness, effortless doing, not efforting and contentment, when fMRI scans show their posterior cingulate activation decreasing.  But the activation went up when they experienced distracted awareness, efforting, and discontentment.  Effortless PFC activation only occurred in yogis with the longest meditation experiences - at least 10,000 hours.  For those with 50,000 hours the PFC is prefrontal cortex which is:
  • The front part of the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex.  It evolved most recently.  During adolescence when the PFC is still deploying, older brain agents provide equivalent strategies: ventral striatum.  The PFC has been implicated in planning, working memory: dorsolateral; decision making: Orbitofrontal cortex; and social behavior.  It regulates feelings.  Different PFC circuits track internal reward driven strategies and externally signalled advice.  The PFC chooses between conflicting options, letting go or restraint, especially between cognition and emotions.  It imposes an overarching strategy for managing working memory.  It is essential for thinking about multiple items with different labels.  It includes neurons that are interested in particular sub-categories: Dog, Cat.  Once it has made a decision it signals the rest of the frontal lobe just behind it.  Glucocorticoids decrease excitability of the PFC.  
activation went down, and for the very longest the PFC only activated during the initial act of focus - resulting in effortless concentration.  For the very longest trained yogis only, the amygdala contains > 12 distinct areas: Central, Lateral.  It receives simple signals from the lower parts of the brain: pain from the PAG; and abstract complex information from the highest areas: Disgust, heart rate, and suffering from the insula cortex, allowing it to orchestrate emotion.  It connects strongly to attention focusing networks.  It sends signals to almost every other part of the brain, including to the decision making circuitry of the frontal lobes.  It has high levels of D(1) dopamine receptors.  During extreme fear the amygdala drives the hippocampus into fear learning.  It outputs directly to subcortical reflexive motor pathways when speed is required.  Its central nucleus projects to the BNST.  It signals the locus ceruleus.  It directly signals area 25.  The amygdala:
  • Promotes aggression.  Stimulating the amygdala promotes rage.  It converts anger into aggression and when impaired it impacts the ability to detect angry facial expressions.  
  • Participates in disgust
  • Perceives fear promoting stimuli, focusing our attention on these.  In PTSD sufferers the Amygdala overreacts to mildly fearful stimuli and is slow to calm down and the amygdala expands in size over a period of months.  Fear is processed by the lateral nucleus which serves as the input from various senses, and the central nucleus which outputs to the brain stem (central grey - freezing, lateral hypothalamus - blood pressure, activates paraventricular hypothalamus => crf -> hormone adjustments). 
  • Has lots of receptors for and is highly sensitive to glucocorticoids.  Stress inhibits the GABA interneurons in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) allowing the excitatory glutamate releasing neurons to excite more. 
  • Is sensitive to unsettling/uncertain social situations where it promotes anxiety and makes us distracted.  It is also interested in uncertain but potentially painful situations.  The amygdala contributes to social and emotional decision making where the BLA supports rejecting an unacceptable offer, as allowed in the Ultimatum Game, by injecting implicit mistrust and vigilance, generating an anger driven rejection that is used as punishment.  The amygdala is very rapidly excited by subliminal signals from the thalamus of outgroup skin color.  The amygdala subsequently tips social emotions against outgroups unless restrained by the frontal lobe or influenced by subliminal priming to prioritize inclusion.  The fast path from the thalamus rapidly but inaccurately signals its identified a weapon. 
  • Sees suffering of others as increasingly salient with loving-kindness meditation practice, Goleman & Davidson explain. 
  • Promotes male, but not female, sexual motivation when it is an uncertain potential pleasure. 
  • Responds to the longing for uncertain potential pleasures and fear that the reward will not be worth it if it happens.  The amygdala turns off during orgasm. 
  • Uses but is not directly involved in vision.  
hardly activated in response to emotional are emotions that are induced in response to other people's signals, are implemented by specific brain regions including: Prefrontal cortex, Insula cortex, Anterior cingulate cortex, Amygdala; receive lots of projections from interoceptive networks.  Sapolsky asserts in the moments just before we prioritize a consequential act the process is less rational and autonomous than we assume.  There are many significant signals from the prior seconds to minutes that effect social emotions:
  • Our brains respond subliminally to skin color very quickly: Amygdala activates, Fusiform face area activates; prior to the conscious stream activating the anterior cingulate and DLPFC which then inhibit the amygdala. 
  • Social dominance is culture independent and accurately subliminally assessed after a 40-millisecond exposure.  Stable status relations activate the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and DLPFC, while a dynamic situation also activates the amygdala.  
  • People who are subliminally judged attractive by the medial orbitofrontal cortex are considered kinder, smarter and more honest.  They are given more breaks. 
  • Faces and eyes in particular are most important subliminal cues.  They are monitored by the fusiform.  People respond more appropriately under the subliminal influence of eyes. 
  • Olfactory sensors send more direct projections to the limbic network than other sensory networks.  Pheromones signal fear activating the amygdala. 
  • Observing pain responses in others results in empathy even among young children. 
  • Words are important emotional signals providing unconscious priming of social responses.  Kahneman & Tversky demonstrated how the phrase '95% survival rate' is found to be a more acceptable choice than '5% death rate'.  Sapolsky notes that prosocial word priming fosters cooperation with antisocial word priming doing the opposite.  
  • Cultural objects such as visible: flags, team badges; subliminally modify in-group outgroup decisions. 
  • The presence of women in a situation alters the responses of men: Increased risk-taking, more focus on luxuries, increased aggression; in circumstances where conflict is already encouraged but not when status is achieved prosocially.  
  • Physical environment shapes behavior as demonstrated by Philip Zimbardo and leveraged in broken windows policing.  
  • Bodily adjustments to sensory structures introduce adaptive complexity, with the brain being influenced to become more sensitive and alter the sensor networks to make some more sensitive.  But these adaptations also vary culturally.  Collectivist cultures focus on a visual scene's surrounding contextual information while people from individualistic cultures focus on the focal object!  
material. 

The Dalai Lama's Namgyal monks view compassion indicates an emotional state where resonance with someone else's distress leads one to help them.  The Dalai Lama stresses we must feel compassion for ourselves and others.  Tara Brach sees compassion as our capacity to relate in a tender and sympathetic way to what we perceive.  Meditation focused on feeling love for the suffering, strengthens compassion by activating the neuron networks for parental love for a child: ACC, insula, striatum, PAG, orbitofrontal cortex; and inducing a reduction in areas responsible for negative emotions. 
being driven by the heart.  Goleman & Davidson note that when yogi's practice compassion their heart rate increases, linked to activation of a part of the insula is part of the cerebral cortex folded deep within the lateral sulcus.  It includes: anterior, posterior insula; and is overlaid by the operculum.  Kandel notes the anterior insula is where feelings are calibrated by evaluating and integrating the importance of the stimuli.  It directly signals area 25.  LeDoux showed there are two routes for signals of feelings and emotions to the amygdala: a fast unconscious one and a slow one that involves the anterior insula.  So the insula is assumed to participate in consciousness where it has been linked to emotion, salience & body homeostasis functions:
  • Perception,
  • Motor control: Hand-&-eye motor movement, Swallowing, Gastric motility, Speech articulation;
  • Self-awareness,
  • Inter-personal experiences: Disgust at smells, contamination & mutilation which generate visceral responses, that are projected to the amygdala; binding physical and moral aspects of purity (Macbeth effect)
    • Suffering of others can be projected by the insula to the amygdala and made increasingly salient with loving-kindness meditation practice, Goleman & Davidson explain. 
  • Homeostatic regulation of the sympathetic network, parasympathetic network, and immune system.  Heart rate and sweat gland activity are monitored.   When the amygdala signals concern, the insula prepares the body for action, increasing blood flow to the muscles etc.
.  The effect is far greater than for the controls.  This is another state-by-trait effect refers to temporary state changes that are only seen in those who display enduring altered traits--long-term meditators and yogis according to Goleman & Davidson. 
, which requires specific practice of compassion meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
.  It heightens the yogi's sense of others emotions are emotions that are induced in response to other people's signals, are implemented by specific brain regions including: Prefrontal cortex, Insula cortex, Anterior cingulate cortex, Amygdala; receive lots of projections from interoceptive networks.  Sapolsky asserts in the moments just before we prioritize a consequential act the process is less rational and autonomous than we assume.  There are many significant signals from the prior seconds to minutes that effect social emotions:
  • Our brains respond subliminally to skin color very quickly: Amygdala activates, Fusiform face area activates; prior to the conscious stream activating the anterior cingulate and DLPFC which then inhibit the amygdala. 
  • Social dominance is culture independent and accurately subliminally assessed after a 40-millisecond exposure.  Stable status relations activate the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and DLPFC, while a dynamic situation also activates the amygdala.  
  • People who are subliminally judged attractive by the medial orbitofrontal cortex are considered kinder, smarter and more honest.  They are given more breaks. 
  • Faces and eyes in particular are most important subliminal cues.  They are monitored by the fusiform.  People respond more appropriately under the subliminal influence of eyes. 
  • Olfactory sensors send more direct projections to the limbic network than other sensory networks.  Pheromones signal fear activating the amygdala. 
  • Observing pain responses in others results in empathy even among young children. 
  • Words are important emotional signals providing unconscious priming of social responses.  Kahneman & Tversky demonstrated how the phrase '95% survival rate' is found to be a more acceptable choice than '5% death rate'.  Sapolsky notes that prosocial word priming fosters cooperation with antisocial word priming doing the opposite.  
  • Cultural objects such as visible: flags, team badges; subliminally modify in-group outgroup decisions. 
  • The presence of women in a situation alters the responses of men: Increased risk-taking, more focus on luxuries, increased aggression; in circumstances where conflict is already encouraged but not when status is achieved prosocially.  
  • Physical environment shapes behavior as demonstrated by Philip Zimbardo and leveraged in broken windows policing.  
  • Bodily adjustments to sensory structures introduce adaptive complexity, with the brain being influenced to become more sensitive and alter the sensor networks to make some more sensitive.  But these adaptations also vary culturally.  Collectivist cultures focus on a visual scene's surrounding contextual information while people from individualistic cultures focus on the focal object!  
and sensitivity to their own body.  The different types of compassion meditation produce different results:
Goleman & Davidson note the serendipity of science.  The model of the default mode network was not understood until after the yogis returned to India, so no experiments were designed to study it in them.  The yogi's are special - radiating inner qualities.  Goleman & Davidson hope such people will be protected by humanity. 

They conclude from the study of yogis that our ordinary state of waking
Consciousness is no longer mysterious.  In this page we use complex adaptive system (CAS) theory to describe the high-level architecture of consciousness, linking sensory networks, low level feelings and genetically conserved and deployed neural structures into a high level scheduler.  Consciousness is evolution's solution to the complex problems of effective, emergent, multi-cellular perception based strategy.  Constrained by emergence and needing to avoid the epistemological problem of starting with a blank slate with every birth, evolution was limited in its options. 

We explain how survival value allows evolution to leverage available tools: sensors, agent relative position, models, perception & representation; to solve the problem of mobile agents responding effectively to their own state and proximate environment.  Evolution did this by providing a genetically constructed framework that can develop into a conscious CAS. 

And we discuss the implications with regard to artificial intelligence, sentient robots, augmented intelligence, and aspects of philosophy. 
consciousness
is only one available option.  Altered traits reflect changes to four neural pathways that Goleman & Davidson identify in Altered Traits.  These networks support: stress reactions - induced experimentally with the TSST, compassion and empathy, attention, sense of self; and are altered by different types of meditation.  An altered state refers to changes that occur only during meditation.  All meditation has the contemplative goal of altered traits leading to being free of suffering by revealing our Bhudda nature.  An altered trait indicates that the practice of meditation has tranformed the brain so the induced changes are seen before beginning to meditate.  Goleman & Davidson developed a robust behavioral measure for attention: the ability to maintain focus while counting breaths.  The test requires pressing a keyboard's down arrow on each outbreath except on the nineth when a different key is pressed and counting restarts at one.  The objective metric is the difference between the subjective count and the actual number of breaths taken.   are also options. 

Altering Traits
There are three classes of meditator:
  1. Beginners have practiced on average for 30 hours of MBSR is mindfulness-based stress reduction.  Jon Kabat-Zinn developed the stress reduction clinic where techniques are taught to develop mindfulness and integrate it and a personal vision of success into every day experience.  In Kabat-Zinn's book Full Catastrophe Living a model of stress is described that allows stressful events to be coped with effectively.  Strategies are described for a wide variety of specific situations including medical symptoms, physical and emotional pain, anxiety and panic, time pressures, relationships, work, food, and external events.   meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
    • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
    • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
    • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
    over an eight week period.  There is some evidence of reduced activity in the amygdala contains > 12 distinct areas: Central, Lateral.  It receives simple signals from the lower parts of the brain: pain from the PAG; and abstract complex information from the highest areas: Disgust, heart rate, and suffering from the insula cortex, allowing it to orchestrate emotion.  It connects strongly to attention focusing networks.  It sends signals to almost every other part of the brain, including to the decision making circuitry of the frontal lobes.  It has high levels of D(1) dopamine receptors.  During extreme fear the amygdala drives the hippocampus into fear learning.  It outputs directly to subcortical reflexive motor pathways when speed is required.  Its central nucleus projects to the BNST.  It signals the locus ceruleus.  It directly signals area 25.  The amygdala:
    • Promotes aggression.  Stimulating the amygdala promotes rage.  It converts anger into aggression and when impaired it impacts the ability to detect angry facial expressions.  
    • Participates in disgust
    • Perceives fear promoting stimuli, focusing our attention on these.  In PTSD sufferers the Amygdala overreacts to mildly fearful stimuli and is slow to calm down and the amygdala expands in size over a period of months.  Fear is processed by the lateral nucleus which serves as the input from various senses, and the central nucleus which outputs to the brain stem (central grey - freezing, lateral hypothalamus - blood pressure, activates paraventricular hypothalamus => crf -> hormone adjustments). 
    • Has lots of receptors for and is highly sensitive to glucocorticoids.  Stress inhibits the GABA interneurons in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) allowing the excitatory glutamate releasing neurons to excite more. 
    • Is sensitive to unsettling/uncertain social situations where it promotes anxiety and makes us distracted.  It is also interested in uncertain but potentially painful situations.  The amygdala contributes to social and emotional decision making where the BLA supports rejecting an unacceptable offer, as allowed in the Ultimatum Game, by injecting implicit mistrust and vigilance, generating an anger driven rejection that is used as punishment.  The amygdala is very rapidly excited by subliminal signals from the thalamus of outgroup skin color.  The amygdala subsequently tips social emotions against outgroups unless restrained by the frontal lobe or influenced by subliminal priming to prioritize inclusion.  The fast path from the thalamus rapidly but inaccurately signals its identified a weapon. 
    • Sees suffering of others as increasingly salient with loving-kindness meditation practice, Goleman & Davidson explain. 
    • Promotes male, but not female, sexual motivation when it is an uncertain potential pleasure. 
    • Responds to the longing for uncertain potential pleasures and fear that the reward will not be worth it if it happens.  The amygdala turns off during orgasm. 
    • Uses but is not directly involved in vision.  
    .  After seven hours there is more evidence of increased compassion indicates an emotional state where resonance with someone else's distress leads one to help them.  The Dalai Lama stresses we must feel compassion for ourselves and others.  Tara Brach sees compassion as our capacity to relate in a tender and sympathetic way to what we perceive.  Meditation focused on feeling love for the suffering, strengthens compassion by activating the neuron networks for parental love for a child: ACC, insula, striatum, PAG, orbitofrontal cortex; and inducing a reduction in areas responsible for negative emotions. 
    Attention is the mutli-faceted capability allowing access to consciousness.  It includes selective attention, vigilance, allocating attention, goal focus, and meta-awareness. 
    shows improvement after 8 minutes of mindfulness is an active meditative state of non-doing, attentively seeking each 'present moment' with one's body and mind 'being' at rest and so cultivating awareness, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn.  Some traditions define it as observing when the mind wanders.  Others use it to refer to the floating awareness that witnesses whatever happens in our experience without judging or otherwise reacting, explain Goleman & Davidson.  The thinking mind usually spends a lot of time relating to the future and past which Kabat-Zinn argues limits its ability to become fully aware of the present.  In times of stress those thoughts are so overpowering that they crowd out awareness and appreciation of the present.  Mindfulness shifts attention to calming internal feelings.  It allows review and prioritization of thoughts as they are recognized.  Major attitude based pillars of successful mindfulness are: impartial to judging, patience, a beginner's mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance of seeing things the way they are and letting go.  An awareness of the body's state can be built with tools including: inquiry, naming; from Yogi's attention to:
    • Breathing - which is a proxy for the environmental situation and through its rhythms is a model of our emotional state.  Attention to breathing reminds people to feel their bodies too.  Belly breathing is particularly relaxing.  
    • Sitting - erect with head, neck and back aligned vertically.  Then attend to breathing moving back to it each time you observe the mind has wandered.  When the body becomes uncomfortable, direct attention to the discomfort, observe and welcome it.  
    • Experience our body - rather than model, judge or hate it relative to an ideal - with a body scan. 
    • Hatha yoga - very slow stretching and strengthening exercises with moment-to-moment awareness supports being in your body.  
    • Walking meditation - Intentionally attend to the immediate experience of walking.  
    .  Within two weeks there is less mind wandering, increased focus, improved working memory is a dominant function of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the areas it connects with.  Prefrontal neurons implement an active memory continuing to fire after the signal is gone for potentially dozens of seconds from the inferior temporal cortex (multi-sensory integration area) and lower level sensory neurons characterized by Hubel & Weisel, while the short-term memory task continues.  If the prefrontal cortex gets distracted the memory is lost from consciousness.  Earl Miller argues the prefrontal cortex implements the rules that decide which working memory neurons will fire (Spring 2017).  Working memory develops from childhood through the late teens, and depends on pyramidal neurons within the PFC. 
    and reduced activity in the default mode network in Buckner's fMRI based analysis, supports using past experiences to plan for the future, navigate social interactions and maximize the utility of moments when attention is not focused on external events.  It includes the: Medial prefrontal cortex, Medial temporal cortex, Posterior cingulate cortex.  It is disrupted in autism, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease.  It becomes quiet under the influence of psychedelics that bind to the serotonin receptor.  .  
  2. Long term meditators have performed, on average, 9,000 hours of vipassana means 'to see clearly' in Pali.  It is the foundational mindfulness (Theravadan) meditation.  It aims to allow the stream of experience to move through attention.  S. N. Goenka aimed to make vipassana broadly available.  In his teaching the focus is on bodily sensations:
    1. Noting the sensations of breathing in and out for hours each day, to build concentration. 
    2. Perform a whole-body scan of whatever sensations are occurring anywhere in the body.  The meditator experiences a sea of shifting sensations and awareness. 
    3. Insight is then developed, which brings the added realization of how we link sensations to the self.  Insight into pain reveals that we build an object out of various continuously shifting sensations and provoked feelings that can become an emotive response of "mine".  Booklets describe how to develop the insights and practice. 
    meditation.  Neural refers to lasting changes to the brain that occur throughout the life span of the organism.  Many aspects of the brain can be altered into adulthood.  Almost anything in the nervous system can change in response to sustained stimulus.  And in a different environment the changes will often reverse.  The changes include:
    • The strength of dendritic input alters due to genetic, neural and hormonal signals
      • Hebb notes that memories require strengthening of preexisting synapses.  Glutamate responsive neurons' post synaptic dendritic spines have two types of receptor: non-NMDA and NMDA.  NMDA channels are responsible for this strengthening mechanism.  LTP then occurs to prolong the increase in excitability of the synapse. 
      • The LTP operation results in calcium diffusion which triggers new spine formation in adjacent parts of the dendrite.  Eventually that can stimulate dentrite growth enabling more neurons to connect. 
      • Short term stress promotes hippocampal LTP.  
      • Sustained stress promotes:
        • Hippocampal & frontal cortex  LTD & suppresses LTP.  Subsequent reductions in NCAM then reduce dendrite and synapse density. 
        • Amygdala LTP and suppresses LTD boosting fear conditioning.  It increases BDNF levels and expands dendrites in the BLA. 
      • Depression and anxiety reduce hippocampal dendrite and spine number by reducing BDNF. 
    • The axon's conditions for
      • Initiating an action potential. 
        • Progesterone boosts GABA-ergic neurons response to GABA decreasing the excitability of other neurons over a period of hours. 
      • Duration of a neuron's refractory period.  Testosterone shortens the refractory period of amygdala and amygdala target neurons over a period of hours. 
    • Synaptic connections being constantly removed and recreated
    • Synapses being created or destroyed.  Stimulation generates additional dendritic spines which become associated with a nearby axon terminal and within weeks a synapse forms.  The synapse then contributes calcium diffusion through LTP triggering more spine formation.  When dendritic spines recede synapses disappear. 
    • Cortical maps change to reflect alterations in the inputs and outputs from the body. 
    • Birth of brain cells in many areas of adult brains: the hippocampus (where 3% are replaced each month) and olfactory bulb and lesser amounts in the cortex. 
    • Restructuring after brain damage including axonal plasticity.  Distant rerouting of axons is observed but no mechanism has been identified yet. 
    • Vision is plastic in predators, where the eyes are moved during final development.  Dehaene argues for neuronal recycling supporting reading.  
    and hormonal are signalling molecules: ACTH, TRH, Melanocyte stimulating hormone, Testosterone, Oxytocin, Vasopressin, Insulin, Growth hormone, Estrogen, Progesterone, Angiotensin II, Asprosin, EPO, Irisin, Leptin, FGF21 hormone, Prostaglandins, TSH, Thyroxine, Glococorticoids: Cortisol; that are transported by the circulatory system to interact with target organs having appropriate receptors.  The levels of hormones can fluctuate massively, as in pregnancy. 
    indicators of reduced stress is a multi-faceted condition reflecting high cortisol levels.  Dr. Robert Sapolsky's studies of baboons indicate that stress helps build readiness for fight or flight.  As these actions occur the levels of cortisol return to the baseline rate.  A stressor is anything that disrupts the regular homeostatic balance.  The stress response is the array of neural and endocrine changes that occur to respond effectively to the crisis and reestablish homeostasis. 
    • The short term response to the stressor
      • activates the amygdala which: Stimulates the brain stem resulting in inhibition of the parasympathetic nervous system and activation of the sympathetic nervous system with the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine deployed around the body, Activates the PVN which generates a cascade resulting in glucocorticoid secretion to: get energy to the muscles with increased blood pressure for a powerful response.  The brain's acuity and cognition are stimulated.  The immune system is stimulated with beta-endorphin and repair activities curtail.  In order for the body to destroy bacteria in wounds, pro-inflammatory cytokines increase blood flow to the area.  The induced inflammation signals the brain to activate the insula and through it the ACC.  But when the stressor is
    • long term: loneliness, debt; and no action is necessary, or possible, long term damage ensues.  Damage from such stress may only occur in specific situations: Nuclear families coping with parents moving in.  Sustained stress provides an evolved amplifier of a position of dominance and status.  It is a strategy in female aggression used to limit reproductive competition.  Sustained stress:
      • Stops the frontal cortex from ensuring we do the harder thing, instead substituting amplification of the individual's propensity for risk-taking and impairing risk assessment! 
      • Activates the integration between the thalamus and amygdala. 
        • Acts differently on the amygdala in comparison to the frontal cortex and hippocampus: Stress strengthens the integration between the Amygdala and the hippocampus, making the hippocampus fearful. 
        • BLA & BNST respond with increased BDNF levels and expanded dendrites persistently increasing anxiety and fear conditioning. 
      • Makes it easier to learn a fear association and to consolidate it into long-term memory.  Sustained stress makes it harder to unlearn fear by making the prefrontal cortex inhibit the BLA from learning to break the fear association and weakening the prefrontal cortex's hold over the amygdala.  And glucocorticoids decrease activation of the medial prefrontal cortex during processing of emotional faces.  Accuracy of assessing emotions from faces suffers.  A terrified rat generating lots of glucocorticoids will cause dendrites in the hippocampus to atrophy but when it generates the same amount from excitement of running on a wheel the dendrites expand.  The activation of the amygdala seems to determine how the hippocampus responds. 
      • Depletes the nucleus accumbens of dopamine biasing rats toward social subordination and biasing humans toward depression. 
      • Disrupts working memory by amplifying norepinephrine signalling in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala to prefrontal cortex signalling until they become destructive.  It also desynchronizes activation in different frontal lobe regions impacting shifting of attention.  
      • Increases the risk of autoimmune disease (Jan 2017) 
    • During depression, stress inhibits dopamine signalling.  
    • Strategies for stress reduction include: Mindfulness. 
    are evident: reduced saliva cortisol is a glucocorticoid produced in the adrenal cortex of the adrenal glands.  It:
    • Stimulates
      • Gluconeogenesis to increase production of blood sugar
      • Metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates
    • Suppresses the immune system.  
    • Decreases bone formation
    • In excessive concentrations destroy synaptic connections in the: hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex; leading to flattened emotions and impaired memory. 
    Loving-kindness meditation practices holding tender, compassionate, feelings towards a slowly widening circle of people: family we love, friends, people we don't know, people we dislike, every person; recognizing the oneness, where everyone desires happiness.  Goleman & Davidson describe the neuroscience involved with this mediation.  Research comparing two groups: one practicing loving-kindness meditation, the other acting as a control group just learning the theory; only the meditators showed a reduced implicit bias against out-groups.  They also studied masters - Tibetan yogis. 
    increases neural resonance with another's suffering and likelihood of helping.  Attention improves: reduced attentional blink is an experimental technique to create a minimal contrast between conscious and unconscious processing.  A brief period of invisibility of an image is created by saturating the conscious mind with attention on letters within a stream of symbols which are mostly digits.  A first letter is perceived.  A second letter presented in close succession (100 milliseconds) is completely missed by conscious perception.  The delay can be adjusted until 50% of the time the second letter is perceived allowing sensors to look at the differences in brain activity between the two minimally different situations.  The blink is associated with an increase in pleasure inducing neural signals.  Goleman & Davidson note that, after a three month vipassana meditation retreat, the blink time reduces 20% due to the neural response being more subdued.   , sustained attention is less taxing, alert-readiness increases, default mode network is down regulated, reducing mind-wandering and self-obsessed thoughts - evidence of altered traits reflect changes to four neural pathways that Goleman & Davidson identify in Altered Traits.  These networks support: stress reactions - induced experimentally with the TSST, compassion and empathy, attention, sense of self; and are altered by different types of meditation.  An altered state refers to changes that occur only during meditation.  All meditation has the contemplative goal of altered traits leading to being free of suffering by revealing our Bhudda nature.  An altered trait indicates that the practice of meditation has tranformed the brain so the induced changes are seen before beginning to meditate.  Goleman & Davidson developed a robust behavioral measure for attention: the ability to maintain focus while counting breaths.  The test requires pressing a keyboard's down arrow on each outbreath except on the nineth when a different key is pressed and counting restarts at one.  The objective metric is the difference between the subjective count and the actual number of breaths taken.  .  Only after 9000 hours is there evidence of basic biological process changes: slower breathing rate.  Compassion networks change faster than stress networks do.  Day long retreats by seasoned meditators helped improve systemic response at the genetic level.  
  3. Yogis have performed, on average, 36,000 hours of meditation.  Their meditative states merge with their daily activities.  Pain emerged as a mental experience, Damasio asserts, constructed by the mind using mapping structures and events provided by nervous systems.  But feeling pain is supported by older biological functions that support homeostasis.  These capabilities reflect the organism's underlying emotive processes that respond to wounds: antibacterial and analgesic chemical deployment, flinching and evading actions; that occur in organisms without nervous systems.  Later in evolution, after organisms with nervous systems were able to map non-neural events, the components of this complex response were 'imageable'.  Today, a wound induced by an internal disease is reported by old, unmyelinated C nerve fibers.  A wound created by an external cut is signalled by evolutionarily recent myelinated fibers that result in a sharp well-localized report, that initially flows to the dorsal root ganglia, then to the spinal cord, where the signals are mixed within the dorsal and ventral horns, and then are transmitted to the brain stem nuclei, thalamus and cerebral cortex.  The pain of a cut is located, but it is also felt through an emotive response that stops us in our tracks.  Pain amplifies the aggression response of people by interoceptive signalling of brain regions providing social emotions including the PAG projecting to the amygdala; making aggressive people more so and less aggressive people less so.  Fear of pain is a significant contributor to female anxiety.  Pain is the main reason people visit the ED in the US.  Pain is mediated by the thalamus and nucleus accumbens, unless undermined by sleep deprivation. 
    response is different to novices.  Concentration becomes effortless.  At these levels of practice, states have become traits: high gamma are observed as 40 Hz neural activity waves associated with conscious access.  They link different brain regions during alignment and integration of emergent memories aggregated from models in different cortical regions: occipital, temporal, somatosensory, insula, olfactory; meshing 'images' of sight, smells, taste, feel and sound into a single experience.  Yogi's gamma rhythms can last for over a minute, instead of the more typical fifth of a second explain Goleman and Davidson. 
    , compassion increased coupling of heart and mind, shrinking of nucleus accumbens is a region of the basal forebrain (striatum) rostral to the preoptic area and immediately adjacent to the septum.  The nucleus accumbens was closely associated with the limbic system, mediates the impact of emotion and plays an important role in reinforcement.  If a rodent wins a fight on his home territory, there are long-lasting increases in levels of testosterone receptors enhancing pleasurable effects.  When prairie voles first mate, epi-genetic state changes are induced in the accumbens to support pair-bonding.  The accumbens projects to brain regions associated with movement.  The major pathways of dopaminergic neurons begin in the substantia nigra and the ventral tegmental area.  The amygdala projects back to the accumbens.  The tegmentostriatal system begins in the ventral tegmental area and projects to the nucleus accumbens.  The nucleus accumbens includes high levels of D1, D2 and D3 dopamine receptors located on the spine & shafts of dendrites of excitatory cells reduce the transfer of excitation from the dendrites to the cell bodies, so only especially strong excitatory inputs get through to the cell body to elicit excitation.  It also has D4 dopamine receptors which are highly variable.  The accumbens responds differently to rewards depending on maturity: In juveniles all reward levels result in the same response activity level, During adolescence the accumbens responds to small rewards negatively, and large rewards hugely, In adults the rewards result in measured scaled positive responses.  Chronic stress depletes dopamine from the nucleus accumbens biasing humans towards depression.  , no detectable saliva cortisol, meditation like brain patterns while resting; supporting inner basic goodness is the Buddha's assertion that each human birth is the realization of the love and timeless radiant awareness that is our true nature. 

All meditation has a basis of iteratively: focus, mind wanders, notice wandering and refocus; allowing the connections between the active brain regions to become stronger refers to lasting changes to the brain that occur throughout the life span of the organism.  Many aspects of the brain can be altered into adulthood.  Almost anything in the nervous system can change in response to sustained stimulus.  And in a different environment the changes will often reverse.  The changes include:
  • The strength of dendritic input alters due to genetic, neural and hormonal signals
    • Hebb notes that memories require strengthening of preexisting synapses.  Glutamate responsive neurons' post synaptic dendritic spines have two types of receptor: non-NMDA and NMDA.  NMDA channels are responsible for this strengthening mechanism.  LTP then occurs to prolong the increase in excitability of the synapse. 
    • The LTP operation results in calcium diffusion which triggers new spine formation in adjacent parts of the dendrite.  Eventually that can stimulate dentrite growth enabling more neurons to connect. 
    • Short term stress promotes hippocampal LTP.  
    • Sustained stress promotes:
      • Hippocampal & frontal cortex  LTD & suppresses LTP.  Subsequent reductions in NCAM then reduce dendrite and synapse density. 
      • Amygdala LTP and suppresses LTD boosting fear conditioning.  It increases BDNF levels and expands dendrites in the BLA. 
    • Depression and anxiety reduce hippocampal dendrite and spine number by reducing BDNF. 
  • The axon's conditions for
    • Initiating an action potential. 
      • Progesterone boosts GABA-ergic neurons response to GABA decreasing the excitability of other neurons over a period of hours. 
    • Duration of a neuron's refractory period.  Testosterone shortens the refractory period of amygdala and amygdala target neurons over a period of hours. 
  • Synaptic connections being constantly removed and recreated
  • Synapses being created or destroyed.  Stimulation generates additional dendritic spines which become associated with a nearby axon terminal and within weeks a synapse forms.  The synapse then contributes calcium diffusion through LTP triggering more spine formation.  When dendritic spines recede synapses disappear. 
  • Cortical maps change to reflect alterations in the inputs and outputs from the body. 
  • Birth of brain cells in many areas of adult brains: the hippocampus (where 3% are replaced each month) and olfactory bulb and lesser amounts in the cortex. 
  • Restructuring after brain damage including axonal plasticity.  Distant rerouting of axons is observed but no mechanism has been identified yet. 
  • Vision is plastic in predators, where the eyes are moved during final development.  Dehaene argues for neuronal recycling supporting reading.  
.  Time periods for change vary.  Tania Singer's ReSource project could not find an increase in interoception indicate the body's internal homeostatic state: Pain, Fatigue; seconds to minutes before.  The signals are conveyed to the CNS via unmyelinated C fibers or lightly myelinated A delta fibers.  Damasio suggests this is key to the fabrication of feelings, allowing interaction with the surrounding chemical environment and cross talk between axons.  These signals operate unconsciously unless mapped by feelings into consciousness.  The interoceptive 'networks': default mode network; project to brain regions that implement social emotions. 
during Goenka means 'to see clearly' in Pali.  It is the foundational mindfulness (Theravadan) meditation.  It aims to allow the stream of experience to move through attention.  S. N. Goenka aimed to make vipassana broadly available.  In his teaching the focus is on bodily sensations:
  1. Noting the sensations of breathing in and out for hours each day, to build concentration. 
  2. Perform a whole-body scan of whatever sensations are occurring anywhere in the body.  The meditator experiences a sea of shifting sensations and awareness. 
  3. Insight is then developed, which brings the added realization of how we link sensations to the self.  Insight into pain reveals that we build an object out of various continuously shifting sensations and provoked feelings that can become an emotive response of "mine".  Booklets describe how to develop the insights and practice. 
's body scan is a mindfulness meditation exercise where the attention is moved around the body noticing the sensations of the visited part.  At the same time the brain models the visited part participating in flows in and out of the body with tensions and pain signals flowing out.  Move the mind to each part and feel it.  Breath in to and out from each region.  Imagine breathing in vitality and relaxation on each in breath.  Imagine the tensions are exhailed with the out breath.  As you let go of the sensations the muscles also let go of tensions.  First from the toes of the left foot to the pelvis and then the right foot to the pelvis.  From there move up through the torso, lower back and abdomen, upper back and chest, sholders.  Then from the fingers of both hands move simultaneously up both arms returning to the shoulders.  Then move through the neck and throat, all regions of the face, back of the head and top of the head to an imaginary hole at the top of the head where we release our breath. 
until 6-9 months of practice.  The Dalai Lama asserts that only during full catastrophe are we tested on the durability of altered traits. 

Goleman & Davidson warn that what expert meditators do is structurally different:
Goleman & Davidson ask which forms of practice  are most useful to which people?  Jon Kabat-Zinn had already looked at which aspects of MBSR is mindfulness-based stress reduction.  Jon Kabat-Zinn developed the stress reduction clinic where techniques are taught to develop mindfulness and integrate it and a personal vision of success into every day experience.  In Kabat-Zinn's book Full Catastrophe Living a model of stress is described that allows stressful events to be coped with effectively.  Strategies are described for a wide variety of specific situations including medical symptoms, physical and emotional pain, anxiety and panic, time pressures, relationships, work, food, and external events.   were most helpful to different patients.  He found that those with cognitive anxiety (extreme for worries and anxious thoughts) were helped most by the MBSR yoga.  Goleman and Davidson review a matching strategy based on cognitive is the ability to orchestrate thought and action in accordance with internal goals according to Princeton's Jonathan Cohen. 
and emotional are low level fast unconscious agents distributed across the brain and body which associate, via the amygdala and rich club hubs, important environmental signals with encoded high speed sensors, and distributed programs of action to model: predict, prioritize guidance signals, select and respond effectively, coherently and rapidly to the initial signal.  The majority of emotion centered brain regions interface to the midbrain through the hypothalamus.  The cerebellum and basal ganglia support the integration of emotion and motor functions, rewarding rhythmic movement.  The most accessible signs of emotions are the hard to control and universal facial expressions.  Emotions provide prioritization for conscious access given that an animal has only one body, but possibly many cells, with which to achieve its highest level goals.  Because of this, base emotions clash with group goals and are disparaged by the powerful.  Pinker notes a set of group selected emotions which he classes as: other-condemning, other-praising, other-suffering and self-conscious emotions.  Evolutionary psychology argues evolution shaped human emotions during the long period of hunter-gatherer existence in the African savanna.  Human emotions are universal and include: Anger, Appreciation of natural beauty, Contempt, Disgust, Embarrassment, Fear, Gratitude, Grief, Guilt, Happiness, Honor, Jealousy, Liking, Love, Moral awe, Rage, Romantic love, Lust for revenge, Passion, Sadness, Self-control, Shame, Sympathy, Surprise; and the sham emotions and distrust induced by reciprocal altruism. 
styles:
Goleman & Davidson are keen to build a checklist for altered traits reflect changes to four neural pathways that Goleman & Davidson identify in Altered Traits.  These networks support: stress reactions - induced experimentally with the TSST, compassion and empathy, attention, sense of self; and are altered by different types of meditation.  An altered state refers to changes that occur only during meditation.  All meditation has the contemplative goal of altered traits leading to being free of suffering by revealing our Bhudda nature.  An altered trait indicates that the practice of meditation has tranformed the brain so the induced changes are seen before beginning to meditate.  Goleman & Davidson developed a robust behavioral measure for attention: the ability to maintain focus while counting breaths.  The test requires pressing a keyboard's down arrow on each outbreath except on the nineth when a different key is pressed and counting restarts at one.  The objective metric is the difference between the subjective count and the actual number of breaths taken.  .  They use the Dalai Lama as a model of the paramitas, from 'The Way of the Bodhisattva is a Buddhist who has realized the fullness of compassion and lives from compassion.  Tara Brach explains the bodhissatva's path and teaching is that when we allow our hearts to be touched by suffering --our own or another's--our natural compassion flowers.  She describes their aspiration "May all circumstances serve to awaken compassion."
,' to expect:

The scientific analysis of the practice of meditation appears to link spiritual progress to development of new skills associated with altered traits.  But, Goleman and Davidson note, for Tibetans, spiritual progress is viewed as recognizing our inherent Buddha nature is the Buddha's assertion that each human birth is the realization of the love and timeless radiant awareness that is our true nature. 


They note the broad deployment of MBSR is mindfulness-based stress reduction.  Jon Kabat-Zinn developed the stress reduction clinic where techniques are taught to develop mindfulness and integrate it and a personal vision of success into every day experience.  In Kabat-Zinn's book Full Catastrophe Living a model of stress is described that allows stressful events to be coped with effectively.  Strategies are described for a wide variety of specific situations including medical symptoms, physical and emotional pain, anxiety and panic, time pressures, relationships, work, food, and external events.   and other 'beginner' class practices used to improve health, relaxation and work success.  These practices are radically different to the Yogi's practices that alter traits reflect changes to four neural pathways that Goleman & Davidson identify in Altered Traits.  These networks support: stress reactions - induced experimentally with the TSST, compassion and empathy, attention, sense of self; and are altered by different types of meditation.  An altered state refers to changes that occur only during meditation.  All meditation has the contemplative goal of altered traits leading to being free of suffering by revealing our Bhudda nature.  An altered trait indicates that the practice of meditation has tranformed the brain so the induced changes are seen before beginning to meditate.  Goleman & Davidson developed a robust behavioral measure for attention: the ability to maintain focus while counting breaths.  The test requires pressing a keyboard's down arrow on each outbreath except on the nineth when a different key is pressed and counting restarts at one.  The objective metric is the difference between the subjective count and the actual number of breaths taken.  .  And they don't include: Ethical stance, altruistic intent, grounded faith, personalized guidanced, evotion, community, supportive culture.  All these differences make experimental design of meditation complicated. 

A Healthy Mind
Goleman and Davidson are keen to offer the benefits of meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
, characterized by their research, to the busy US workers.  Davidson's research team has built a meditation application platform called Healthy Minds, focused on cultivating wellbeing indicates the state of an organism is within homeostatic balance.  It is described by Angus Deaton as all the things that are good for a person:
  • Material wellbeing includes income and wealth and its measures: GDP, personal income and consumption.  It can be traded for goods and services which recapture time.  Material wellbeing depends on investments in:
    • Infrastructure
      • Physical
      • Property rights, contracts and dispute resolution
    • People and their education
    • Capturing of basic knowledge via science.  
    • Engineering to turn science into goods and services and then continuously improve them. 
  • Physical and psychological wellbeing are represented by health and happiness; and education and the ability to participate in civil society through democracy and the rule of law.  University of Wisconsin's Ryff focuses on Aristotle's flourishing.  Life expectancy as a measure of population health, highly weights reductions in child mortality. 
for the majority with no
Carlo Rovelli resolves the paradox of time. 
Rovelli initially explains that low level physics does not include time:
  • A present that is common throughout the universe does not exist
  • Events are only partially ordered.  The present is localized
  • The difference between past and future is not foundational.  It occurs because of state that through our blurring appears particular to us
  • Time passes at different speeds dependent on where we are and how fast we travel
  • Time's rhythms are due to the gravitational field
  • Our quantized physics shows neither space nor time, just processes transforming physical variables. 
  • Fundamentally there is no time.  The basic equations evolve together with events, not things 
Then he explains how in a physical world without time its perception can emerge:
  • Our familiar time emerges
    • Our interaction with the world is partial, blurred, quantum indeterminate
    • The ignorance determines the existence of thermal time and entropy that quantifies our uncertainty
    • Directionality of time is real but perspectival.  The entropy of the world in relation to us increases with our thermal time.  The growth of entropy distinguishes past from future: resulting in traces and memories
    • Each human is a unified being because: we reflect the world, we formed an image of a unified entity by interacting with our kind, and because of the perspective of memory
    • The variable time: is one of the variables of the gravitational field.  With our scale we don't register quantum fluctuations, making space-time appear determined.  At our speed we don't perceive differences in time of different clocks, so we experience a single time: universal, uniform, ordered; which is helpful to our decisions

time
to deeply invest in meditation.  And they aim to scientifically validate how well it achieves this goal.  That will mean characterizing how different people use the app. 

Other research groups, following the massive interest in MBSR is mindfulness-based stress reduction.  Jon Kabat-Zinn developed the stress reduction clinic where techniques are taught to develop mindfulness and integrate it and a personal vision of success into every day experience.  In Kabat-Zinn's book Full Catastrophe Living a model of stress is described that allows stressful events to be coped with effectively.  Strategies are described for a wide variety of specific situations including medical symptoms, physical and emotional pain, anxiety and panic, time pressures, relationships, work, food, and external events.   in
The structure and problems of the US health care network is described in terms of complex adaptive system (CAS) theory. 

The network:
  • Is deeply embedded in the US nation state. It reflects the conflict between two opposing visions for the US: high tax with safety net or low tax without.  The emergence of a parasitic elite supported by tax policy, further constrains the choices available to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the network.  
    • The US is optimized to sell its citizens dangerous levels of: salt, sugar, cigarettes, guns, light, cell phones, opioids, costly education, global travel, antibacterials, formula, foods including endocrine disrupters;
    • Accepting the US controlled global supply chain's offered goods & services results in: debt, chronic stress, amplified consumption and toxic excess, leading to obesity, addiction, driving instead of walking, microbiome collapse;
  • Is incented to focus on localized competition generating massive & costly duplication of services within physician based health care operations instead of proven public health strategies.  This process drives increasing research & treatment complexity and promotes hope for each new technological breakthrough. 
  • Is amplified by the legislatively structured separation and indirection of service development, provision, reimbursement and payment. 
  • Is impacted by the different political strategies for managing the increasing cost of health care for the demographic bulge of retirees.  
  • Is presented with acute and chronic problems to respond to.  As currently setup the network is tuned to handle acute problems.  The interactions with patients tend to be transactional. 
  • Includes a legislated health insurance infrastructure which is:
    • Costly and inefficient
    • Structured around yearly contracts which undermine long-term health goals and strategies.  
  • Is supported by increasingly regulated HCIT which offers to improve data sharing and quality but has entrenched commercial EHR products deep within the hospital systems.  
  • Is maintained, and kept in alignment, by massive network effects across the:
    • Hospital platform based sub-networks connecting to
    • Physician networks
    • Health insurance networks - amplified by ACA narrow network legislation
    • Hospital clinical supply and food production networks
    • Medical school and academic research network and NIH
    • Global transportation network 
    • Public health networks 
    • Health care IT supply network
healthcare
, are advising commercial organizations and high stress groups like the military and fire services about approaches to meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
.  Goleman and Davidson see contemplative science as the infrastructure supporting these activities.  And they hope a scientific approach will allow new applications to be well grounded. 

Goleman and Davidson are confident that meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
can and should help all ages to suffer less, and become kinder:
Goleman & Davidson reflect on the arguments of Thomas Kuhn, in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, that science alters direction abruptly from time to time as
This page discusses the impact of random events which once they occur encourage a particular direction forward for a complex adaptive system (CAS). 
novel ideas and new paradigms
shift otherwise culture is how we do and think about things, transmitted by non-genetic means as defined by Frans de Waal.  CAS theory views cultures as operating via memetic schemata evolved by memetic operators to support a cultural superorganism.  Evolutionary psychology asserts that human culture reflects adaptations generated while hunting and gathering.  Dehaene views culture as essentially human, shaped by exaptations and reading, transmitted with support of the neuronal workspace and stabilized by neuronal recycling.  Damasio notes prokaryotes and social insects have developed cultural social behaviors.  Sapolsky argues that parents must show children how to transform their genetically derived capabilities into a culturally effective toolset.  He is interested in the broad differences across cultures of: Life expectancy, GDP, Death in childbirth, Violence, Chronic bullying, Gender equality, Happiness, Response to cheating, Individualist or collectivist, Enforcing honor, Approach to hierarchy; illustrating how different a person's life will be depending on the culture where they are raised.  Culture:
  • Is deployed during pregnancy & childhood, with parental mediation.  Nutrients, immune messages and hormones all affect the prenatal brain.  Hormones: Testosterone with anti-Mullerian hormone masculinizes the brain by entering target cells and after conversion to estrogen binding to intracellular estrogen receptors; have organizational effects producing lifelong changes.  Parenting style typically produces adults who adopt the same approach.  And mothering style can alter gene regulation in the fetus in ways that transfer epigenetically to future generations!  PMS symptoms vary by culture. 
  • Is also significantly transmitted to children by their peers during play.  So parents try to control their children's peer group.  
  • Is transmitted to children by their neighborhoods, tribes, nations etc. 
  • Influences the parenting style that is considered appropriate. 
  • Can transform dominance into honor.  There are ecological correlates of adopting honor cultures.  Parents in honor cultures are typically authoritarian. 
  • Is strongly adapted across a meta-ethnic frontier according to Turchin.  
  • Across Europe was shaped by the Carolingian empire. 
  • Can provide varying levels of support for innovation.  Damasio suggests culture is influenced by feelings: 
    • As motives for intellectual creation: prompting detection and diagnosis of homeostatic deficiencies, identifying desirable states worthy of creative effort.
    • As monitors of the success and failure of cultural instruments and practices
    • As participants in the negotiation of adjustments required by the cultural process over time 
  • Produces consciousness according to Dennet. 
bound thinking.  Psychology is now integrating Eastern ideas enabling contemplative neuroscience.  They hope their ideas can enable enduring wellbeing indicates the state of an organism is within homeostatic balance.  It is described by Angus Deaton as all the things that are good for a person:
  • Material wellbeing includes income and wealth and its measures: GDP, personal income and consumption.  It can be traded for goods and services which recapture time.  Material wellbeing depends on investments in:
    • Infrastructure
      • Physical
      • Property rights, contracts and dispute resolution
    • People and their education
    • Capturing of basic knowledge via science.  
    • Engineering to turn science into goods and services and then continuously improve them. 
  • Physical and psychological wellbeing are represented by health and happiness; and education and the ability to participate in civil society through democracy and the rule of law.  University of Wisconsin's Ryff focuses on Aristotle's flourishing.  Life expectancy as a measure of population health, highly weights reductions in child mortality. 
: increasing generosity, kindness and focus, less us versus them; from caring for our
Computational theory of the mind and evolutionary psychology provide Steven Pinker with a framework on which to develop his psychological arguments about the mind and its relationship to the brain.  Humans captured a cognitive niche by natural selection 'building out' specialized aspects of their bodies and brains resulting in a system of mental organs we call the mind. 

He garnishes and defends the framework with findings from psychology regarding: The visual system - an example of natural selections solutions to the sensory challenges of inverse modeling of our environment; Intensions - where he highlights the challenges of hunter gatherers - making sense of the objects they perceive and predicting what they imply and natural selections powerful solutions; Emotions - which Pinker argues are essential to human prioritizing and decision making; Relationships - natural selection's strategies for coping with the most dangerous competitors, other people.  He helps us understand marriage, friendships and war. 

These conclusions allow him to understand the development and maintenance of higher callings: Art, Music, Literature, Humor, Religion, & Philosophy; and develop a position on the meaning of life. 

Complex adaptive system (CAS) modeling allows RSS to frame Pinker's arguments within humanity's current situation, induced by powerful evolved amplifiers: Globalization, Cliodynamics, The green revolution and resource bottlenecks; melding his powerful predictions of the drivers of human behavior with system wide constraints.  The implications are discussed. 

minds
and brains.  And they assume a shift will require many to attempt the inner journey.  And so they hope their platforms can allow many to develop greater equanimity and compassion indicates an emotional state where resonance with someone else's distress leads one to help them.  The Dalai Lama stresses we must feel compassion for ourselves and others.  Tara Brach sees compassion as our capacity to relate in a tender and sympathetic way to what we perceive.  Meditation focused on feeling love for the suffering, strengthens compassion by activating the neuron networks for parental love for a child: ACC, insula, striatum, PAG, orbitofrontal cortex; and inducing a reduction in areas responsible for negative emotions. 



This page introduces the complex adaptive system (CAS) theory frame.  The theory provides an organizing framework that is used by 'life.'  It can be used to evaluate and rank models that claim to describe our perceived reality.  It catalogs the laws and strategies which underpin the operation of systems that are based on the interaction of emergent agents.  It highlights the constraints that shape CAS and so predicts their form.  A proposal that does not conform is wrong. 

John Holland's framework for representing complexity is outlined.  Links to other key aspects of CAS theory discussed at the site are presented. 
CAS
implications

CAS theory reinforces Goleman & Davidson's concerns about applying inappropriate scientific research to the understanding of meditation.  The situation is truly complex, M. Mitchell Waldrop describes a vision of complexity via:
  • Rich interactions that allow a system to undergo spontaneous self-organization
  • Systems that are adaptive
  • More predictability than chaotic systems by bringing order and chaos into
  • Balance at the edge of chaos
:
The CAS
The agents in complex adaptive systems (CAS) must model their environment to respond effectively to it.  Evolution's schematic operators and Samuel modeling together support the indirect recording of past successes and their strategic use by the current agent to learn how to succeed in the proximate environment. 
model
of
Consciousness is no longer mysterious.  In this page we use complex adaptive system (CAS) theory to describe the high-level architecture of consciousness, linking sensory networks, low level feelings and genetically conserved and deployed neural structures into a high level scheduler.  Consciousness is evolution's solution to the complex problems of effective, emergent, multi-cellular perception based strategy.  Constrained by emergence and needing to avoid the epistemological problem of starting with a blank slate with every birth, evolution was limited in its options. 

We explain how survival value allows evolution to leverage available tools: sensors, agent relative position, models, perception & representation; to solve the problem of mobile agents responding effectively to their own state and proximate environment.  Evolution did this by providing a genetically constructed framework that can develop into a conscious CAS. 

And we discuss the implications with regard to artificial intelligence, sentient robots, augmented intelligence, and aspects of philosophy. 
consciousness
suggests new experiences are associated with memories from similar emotional are low level fast unconscious agents distributed across the brain and body which associate, via the amygdala and rich club hubs, important environmental signals with encoded high speed sensors, and distributed programs of action to model: predict, prioritize guidance signals, select and respond effectively, coherently and rapidly to the initial signal.  The majority of emotion centered brain regions interface to the midbrain through the hypothalamus.  The cerebellum and basal ganglia support the integration of emotion and motor functions, rewarding rhythmic movement.  The most accessible signs of emotions are the hard to control and universal facial expressions.  Emotions provide prioritization for conscious access given that an animal has only one body, but possibly many cells, with which to achieve its highest level goals.  Because of this, base emotions clash with group goals and are disparaged by the powerful.  Pinker notes a set of group selected emotions which he classes as: other-condemning, other-praising, other-suffering and self-conscious emotions.  Evolutionary psychology argues evolution shaped human emotions during the long period of hunter-gatherer existence in the African savanna.  Human emotions are universal and include: Anger, Appreciation of natural beauty, Contempt, Disgust, Embarrassment, Fear, Gratitude, Grief, Guilt, Happiness, Honor, Jealousy, Liking, Love, Moral awe, Rage, Romantic love, Lust for revenge, Passion, Sadness, Self-control, Shame, Sympathy, Surprise; and the sham emotions and distrust induced by reciprocal altruism. 
situations.  Silent mediation at retreats is likely to align new practice with prior learning.  Coaches bring proximate high priority, historic
Plans emerge in complex adaptive systems (CAS) to provide the instructions that agents use to perform actions.  The component architecture and structure of the plans is reviewed. 
schematic
insight to the participant's PFC is prefrontal cortex which is:
  • The front part of the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex.  It evolved most recently.  During adolescence when the PFC is still deploying, older brain agents provide equivalent strategies: ventral striatum.  The PFC has been implicated in planning, working memory: dorsolateral; decision making: Orbitofrontal cortex; and social behavior.  It regulates feelings.  Different PFC circuits track internal reward driven strategies and externally signalled advice.  The PFC chooses between conflicting options, letting go or restraint, especially between cognition and emotions.  It imposes an overarching strategy for managing working memory.  It is essential for thinking about multiple items with different labels.  It includes neurons that are interested in particular sub-categories: Dog, Cat.  Once it has made a decision it signals the rest of the frontal lobe just behind it.  Glucocorticoids decrease excitability of the PFC.  
, generating alignment, and interest, increasing its control over the amygdala contains > 12 distinct areas: Central, Lateral.  It receives simple signals from the lower parts of the brain: pain from the PAG; and abstract complex information from the highest areas: Disgust, heart rate, and suffering from the insula cortex, allowing it to orchestrate emotion.  It connects strongly to attention focusing networks.  It sends signals to almost every other part of the brain, including to the decision making circuitry of the frontal lobes.  It has high levels of D(1) dopamine receptors.  During extreme fear the amygdala drives the hippocampus into fear learning.  It outputs directly to subcortical reflexive motor pathways when speed is required.  Its central nucleus projects to the BNST.  It signals the locus ceruleus.  It directly signals area 25.  The amygdala:
  • Promotes aggression.  Stimulating the amygdala promotes rage.  It converts anger into aggression and when impaired it impacts the ability to detect angry facial expressions.  
  • Participates in disgust
  • Perceives fear promoting stimuli, focusing our attention on these.  In PTSD sufferers the Amygdala overreacts to mildly fearful stimuli and is slow to calm down and the amygdala expands in size over a period of months.  Fear is processed by the lateral nucleus which serves as the input from various senses, and the central nucleus which outputs to the brain stem (central grey - freezing, lateral hypothalamus - blood pressure, activates paraventricular hypothalamus => crf -> hormone adjustments). 
  • Has lots of receptors for and is highly sensitive to glucocorticoids.  Stress inhibits the GABA interneurons in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) allowing the excitatory glutamate releasing neurons to excite more. 
  • Is sensitive to unsettling/uncertain social situations where it promotes anxiety and makes us distracted.  It is also interested in uncertain but potentially painful situations.  The amygdala contributes to social and emotional decision making where the BLA supports rejecting an unacceptable offer, as allowed in the Ultimatum Game, by injecting implicit mistrust and vigilance, generating an anger driven rejection that is used as punishment.  The amygdala is very rapidly excited by subliminal signals from the thalamus of outgroup skin color.  The amygdala subsequently tips social emotions against outgroups unless restrained by the frontal lobe or influenced by subliminal priming to prioritize inclusion.  The fast path from the thalamus rapidly but inaccurately signals its identified a weapon. 
  • Sees suffering of others as increasingly salient with loving-kindness meditation practice, Goleman & Davidson explain. 
  • Promotes male, but not female, sexual motivation when it is an uncertain potential pleasure. 
  • Responds to the longing for uncertain potential pleasures and fear that the reward will not be worth it if it happens.  The amygdala turns off during orgasm. 
  • Uses but is not directly involved in vision.  


CAS theory describes the emergence of the dualistic self and the tree of life linked by the genetic code and machinery.  It provides an analog of the Buddhist presence. 

The
This page reviews the implications of selection, variation and heredity in a complex adaptive system (CAS).  The mechanism and its emergence are discussed. 
evolutionary processes
can then build and explore additional niches.  Dawkins
Richard Dawkin's explores how nature has created implementations of designs, without any need for planning or design, through the accumulation of small advantageous changes. 
stresses
that all life on earth started from a single event.  This means that the genetic code, the mapping of DNA base triplet sequences, such as AAA and AAT, to amino-acids (AAA maps to the amino-acid lysine for example) and transcription termination sequences (TGA maps to stop transcription for example) that has currently evolved.  , and much of the genetic machinery, is shared amongst all the current life forms.  Additionally:

Riso and Hudson
The influence of childhood on behavior is significant.  Enneagrams define personality types: Reformer, Helper, Achiever, Individualist, Investigator, Loyalist, Enthusiast, Challenger and Peacemaker; based on the impact of childhood driven wounds. 

The Enneagram becomes a tool to enable interested people to transform from the emotionally wounded base, hidden within the armor of the type, to the liberated underlying essence. 

Childhood leaves each of us with some environmentally specific Basic Fear.  In response each of us adopts an induced Basic Desire of the type.  But as we develop the inner observer, it will support presence and undermine the identification that supports the armor of the type. 

The Enneagram reveals three sets of relations about our type armor:
  1. Triadic self revealing: Instinctive, feeling, thinking; childhood needs that became significant wounds
  2. Social style groupings: Assertive, compliant, withdrawn; strategies for managing inner conflict
  3. Coping styles: Positive outlook, competency, reactive; strategies for defending childhood wounds
Riso and Hudson augment the Enneagram with instinctual distortions reflected in the interests of the variants. 

The Enneagram also offers tools for understanding a person's level of development: unhealthy, average, healthy, liberation; including their current center of gravity, steriotypical social role, wake-up call, leaden rule, red flag, and direction of integration and disintegration. 

Complex adaptive system (CAS) theory associates the models presented by the Enneagram with evolved behaviors and structures in the mind: feelings, emotions, social behaviors, ideas; driven by genetic and cultural evolution and the constraints of family and social life.  Emergent evolved amplifers can be constrained by Riso and Hudson's awareness strategies. 

note
the superego includes:
  • Id - which he felt seeks pleasure and avoids pain and includes the instinctual unconscious
    • Repression - is a defensive mechanism for keeping socially unacceptable desires: children's sexual and aggressive needs; traumatic memories and painful emotions from entering consciousness
  • Ego - is concerned with perception, reasoning, planning of actions, and includes:
    • Consciousness
    • Adaptive (preconscious) unconscious
  • Superego - is a specialized motivational flow of long-term strategies associated with altruism, normative behavior, and group interests.  The ethical & moral aspects of the mind including: conscience; There is intrapsychic conflict.  The mind overall benefits from adaptations that enable strategic tradeoffs. 
's powerful contribution to judging. 
This page reviews the implications of selection, variation and heredity in a complex adaptive system (CAS).  The mechanism and its emergence are discussed. 
Evolution
has provided robust gene pool strategies for niche access, survival and reproduction.  Culture is how we do and think about things, transmitted by non-genetic means as defined by Frans de Waal.  CAS theory views cultures as operating via memetic schemata evolved by memetic operators to support a cultural superorganism.  Evolutionary psychology asserts that human culture reflects adaptations generated while hunting and gathering.  Dehaene views culture as essentially human, shaped by exaptations and reading, transmitted with support of the neuronal workspace and stabilized by neuronal recycling.  Damasio notes prokaryotes and social insects have developed cultural social behaviors.  Sapolsky argues that parents must show children how to transform their genetically derived capabilities into a culturally effective toolset.  He is interested in the broad differences across cultures of: Life expectancy, GDP, Death in childbirth, Violence, Chronic bullying, Gender equality, Happiness, Response to cheating, Individualist or collectivist, Enforcing honor, Approach to hierarchy; illustrating how different a person's life will be depending on the culture where they are raised.  Culture:
  • Is deployed during pregnancy & childhood, with parental mediation.  Nutrients, immune messages and hormones all affect the prenatal brain.  Hormones: Testosterone with anti-Mullerian hormone masculinizes the brain by entering target cells and after conversion to estrogen binding to intracellular estrogen receptors; have organizational effects producing lifelong changes.  Parenting style typically produces adults who adopt the same approach.  And mothering style can alter gene regulation in the fetus in ways that transfer epigenetically to future generations!  PMS symptoms vary by culture. 
  • Is also significantly transmitted to children by their peers during play.  So parents try to control their children's peer group.  
  • Is transmitted to children by their neighborhoods, tribes, nations etc. 
  • Influences the parenting style that is considered appropriate. 
  • Can transform dominance into honor.  There are ecological correlates of adopting honor cultures.  Parents in honor cultures are typically authoritarian. 
  • Is strongly adapted across a meta-ethnic frontier according to Turchin.  
  • Across Europe was shaped by the Carolingian empire. 
  • Can provide varying levels of support for innovation.  Damasio suggests culture is influenced by feelings: 
    • As motives for intellectual creation: prompting detection and diagnosis of homeostatic deficiencies, identifying desirable states worthy of creative effort.
    • As monitors of the success and failure of cultural instruments and practices
    • As participants in the negotiation of adjustments required by the cultural process over time 
  • Produces consciousness according to Dennet. 
provides an additional set of strategies for humanity to use. 
Desmond & Moore paint a picture of Charles Darwin's life, expanded from his own highlights:
  • His naughty childhood, 
  • Wasted schooldays,
  • Apprenticeship with Grant,
  • His extramural activities at Cambridge, walks with Henslow, life with FitzRoy on the Beagle,
  • His growing love for science,
  • London: geology, journal and Lyell. 
  • Moving from Gower Street to Down and writing Origin and other books. 
  • He reviewed his position on religion: the long dispute with Emma, his slow collapse of belief - damnation for unbelievers like his father and brother, inward conviction being evolved and unreliable, regretting he had ignored his father's advice; while describing Emma's side of the argument.  He felt happy with his decision to dedicate his life to science.  He closed by asserting after Self & Cross-fertilization his strength will be exhausted.  
Following our summary of their main points, RSS frames the details from the perspective of complex adaptive system (CAS) theory.  Darwin placed evolution within a CAS framework, and built a network of supporters whose complementary skills helped drive the innovation. 
 
Darwinian
evolution must use mutation to generate change, since only this mechanism retains benefits for further generations.  Epi-genetics represent state surfaces within cells and eggs which can be operationally modified so as to provide a heritable structure.  DNA, histones and other stable structures provide surfaces where these states may be setup.  Egg carriers are in a particularly powerful position to induce epi-genetic changes.  Sapolsky notes [childhood] events which persistently alter brain structure and behavior via epi-genetic mechanisms including: pair-bonding in prairie voles, as they first mate, is supported by changes in oxytocin & vasopressin receptor gene regulation in the nucleus accumbens. 
and Culture's leverage of the Baldwin effect suggests learning can guide evolution.  While some aspects of the organism are setup directly by genes others are left to be set through learning.  Trial and error is used to tune the learned settings.  Learning can allow a configuration that natural selection is highly unlikely to generate and that is tuned to the proximate environment, to be found by iterative testing.  Natural selection can retain the schematic structures that specify the learning infrastructure and the most successful aspects set directly evolving towards a desired outcome.  The result looks Lamarckian. 
,
E O. Wilson argues that campfire gatherings on the savanna supported the emergence of human creativity.  This resulted in man building cultures and later exploring them, and their creator, through the humanities.  Wilson identifies the transformative events, but he notes many of these are presently ignored by the humanities.  So he calls for a change of approach. 

He:
  • Explores creativity: how it emerged from the benefits of becoming an omnivore hunter gatherer, enabled by language & its catalysis of invention, through stories told in the evening around the campfire. He notes the power of fine art, but suggests music provides the most revealing signature of aesthetic surprise. 
  • Looks at the current limitations of the humanities, as they have suffered through years of neglect.  
  • Reviews the evolutionary processes of heredity and culture:
    • Ultimate causes viewed through art, & music
    • The bedrock of:
      • Ape senses and emotions,
      • Creative arts, language, dance, song typically studied by humanities, & 
      • Exponential change in science and technology.  
    • How the breakthrough from our primate past occurred, powered by eating meat, supporting: a bigger brain, expanded memory & language. 
    • Accelerating changes now driven by genetic cultural coevolution.  
    • The impact on human nature.  
  • Considers our emotional attachment to the natural world: hunting, gardens; we are destroying. 
  • Reviews our love of metaphor, archetypes, exploration, irony, and considers the potential for a third enlightenment, supported by cooperative action of humanities and science

Following our summary of his arguments RSS frames these from the perspective of complex adaptive system (CAS) theory:
  • The humanities are seen to be a functionalist framework for representing the cultural CAS while 
  • Wilson's desire to integrate the humanities and science gains support from viewing the endeavor as a network of layered CAS. 

discussed
by E. O. Wilson, make the long-term
Plans emerge in complex adaptive systems (CAS) to provide the instructions that agents use to perform actions.  The component architecture and structure of the plans is reviewed. 
schematic
impact of meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
credible but difficult to quantify. 
This page introduces the complex adaptive system (CAS) theory frame.  The theory provides an organizing framework that is used by 'life.'  It can be used to evaluate and rank models that claim to describe our perceived reality.  It catalogs the laws and strategies which underpin the operation of systems that are based on the interaction of emergent agents.  It highlights the constraints that shape CAS and so predicts their form.  A proposal that does not conform is wrong. 

John Holland's framework for representing complexity is outlined.  Links to other key aspects of CAS theory discussed at the site are presented. 
CAS
theory does not provide a clear demonstration that cooperation and kindness wins out over competition and coercion in all scenarios.  Sapolsky
The complexity of behavior is explored through Sapolsky developing scenarios of our best and worst behaviors across time spans, and scientific subjects including: anthropology, psychology, neuroscience, sociology.  The rich network of adaptive flows he outlines provides insights and highlight challenges for scientific research on behavior. 

Complex adaptive system (CAS) theory builds on Sapolsky's details highlighting the strategies that evolution has captured to successfully enter niches we now occupy. 

explores
the full CAS of our best and worst behaviors: 
Steven Johnson develops a
Good ideas are successful because they build upon prior developments that have been successfully implemented.  Johnson demonstrates that they are phenotypic expressions of memetic plans subject to the laws of complex adaptive systems (CAS). 
framework for how good ideas develop
.  Johnson's slow hunch can be seen operating

Deacon's
Terrence Deacon explores how constraints on dynamic flows can induce emergent phenomena which can do real work.  He shows how these phenomena are sustained.  The mechanism enables the development of Darwinian competition. 
explanation
of constraint based phenomena, implies that meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
constrains the negative traits from
Flows of different kinds are essential to the operation of complex adaptive systems (CAS). 
Example flows are outlined.  Constraints on flows support the emergence of the systems.  Examples of constraints are discussed. 
flowing
, by strengthening the positive flows. 


Altered Traits reviews the body of research linking neuroscience with meditation includes a variety of practices with the contemplative goal of altering traits to free the subject of suffering.  Goleman & Davidson see three distinct levels of practice: beginner, long term meditator, Yogi; with radically different levels of commitment.  Beginners typically do a limited-time-investment mindfulness meditation such as MBSR.  Long term meditators typically practice vipassana meditation.  Yogis practice Tibetan meditations Dzogchen and Mahamudra, which start like vipassana but in a non-dual stance developing a more subtle meta-awareness.  Richard Davidson, Cortland Dahl and Antoine Lutz developed a typology of the practices:
  • Attentional - train aspects of attention. 
  • Constructive - cultivate virtuous qualities: loving-kindness;
  • Destructive - use self-observation to pierce the nature of experience.  These include non-dual approaches where ordinary cognition no longer dominates. 
practice, and describes the goals for future research, its funding and process.  It highlights how the plasticity in computer programs is the ability to learn as they operate according to Dehaene.   of the brain is used by meditation to alter important traits reflect changes to four neural pathways that Goleman & Davidson identify in Altered Traits.  These networks support: stress reactions - induced experimentally with the TSST, compassion and empathy, attention, sense of self; and are altered by different types of meditation.  An altered state refers to changes that occur only during meditation.  All meditation has the contemplative goal of altered traits leading to being free of suffering by revealing our Bhudda nature.  An altered trait indicates that the practice of meditation has tranformed the brain so the induced changes are seen before beginning to meditate.  Goleman & Davidson developed a robust behavioral measure for attention: the ability to maintain focus while counting breaths.  The test requires pressing a keyboard's down arrow on each outbreath except on the nineth when a different key is pressed and counting restarts at one.  The objective metric is the difference between the subjective count and the actual number of breaths taken.  






































































.
Market Centric Workshops
The Physics - Politics, Economics & Evolutionary Psychology
Politics, Economics & Evolutionary Psychology

Business Physics
Nature and nurture drive the business eco-system
Human nature
Emerging structure and dynamic forces of adaptation


integrating quality appropriate for each market
 
This page looks at schematic structures and their uses.  It discusses a number of examples:
  • Schematic ideas are recombined in creativity. 
  • Similarly designers take ideas and rules about materials and components and combine them. 
  • Schematic Recipes help to standardize operations. 
  • Modular components are combined into strategies for use in business plans and business models. 

As a working example it presents part of the contents and schematic details from the Adaptive Web Framework (AWF)'s operational plan. 

Finally it includes a section presenting our formal representation of schematic goals. 
Each goal has a series of associated complex adaptive system (CAS) strategy strings. 
These goals plus strings are detailed for various chess and business examples. 
Strategy
| Design |
This page uses an example to illustrate how:
  • A business can gain focus from targeting key customers,
  • Business planning activities performed by the whole organization can build awareness, empowerment and coherence. 
  • A program approach can ensure strategic alignment. 
Program Management
| Home

Profiles | Papers | Glossary | E-mail us