Dr. Norman Farb
University of Toronto

Be Your Own fMRI: Parallels Between Buddhist Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience

Cognitive Neuroscience is founded on the principle that objective measurement of brain states can elucidate mental constructs such as the self, emotion, and well-being. Buddhist psychology explores these same constructs through introspective and subjective processes such as mindfulness meditation. And yet, these knowledge traditions share central assumptions: 1) that the mind is dynamic and always changing, 2) that there is no true ‘self’ controlling the mind, but rather a set of processes that give rise to a feeling of identity, and 3) that nearly all states are unsatisfactory and compel regulatory responses. In a smorgasbord of philosophy, neuroimaging studies, longitudinal clinical research, and contemplative theory, Prof. Farb will make the case that the assumptions and motivations underlying the modern mindfulness movement and cognitive neuroscience are largely coherent, and that these two approaches may be complementary in informing our understanding of self, emotion, and well-being.