April 25, 2006 at 5:35 am #13340
This is an interesting study. Of course, what they call self-awareness is personal feeling; some meditators might define self-awareness to include states beyond that.
But this study summary interestingly makes the philosophical assumption that feelings are what define us as humans. One possible conclusion to extrapolate from this study is that when we are “distracted” by a stream of bombarding stimuli, such as is common in fast paced modern life, that we lose our true sense of self, which requires slower input and time to digest it.
Similar to position taken by Israeli posting on this topic earlier.
WATCHING THE BRAIN ‘SWITCH OFF’ SELF-AWARENESS
By Gaia Vince
April 19, 2006
Everybody has experienced a sense of losing oneself in an activity —
being totally absorbed in a task, a movie or sex. Now researchers have
caught the brain in the act.
Self-awareness, regarded as a key element of being human, is switched off
when the brain needs to concentrate hard on a tricky task, found the
neurobiologists from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.
The team conducted a series of experiments to pinpoint the brain activity
associated with introspection and that linked to sensory function. They
found that the brain assumes a robotic functionality when it has to
concentrate all its efforts on a difficult, timed task — only becoming
“human” again when it has the luxury of time.
Ilan Goldberg and colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging
(fMRI) to scan the brains of nine volunteers during the study. Participants
were shown picture cards and told to push buttons to indicate whether or not
an animal was depicted.
The series was shown slowly the first time, and at three times the rate on
the second run through. On its third showing, the volunteers were asked to
use the buttons to indicate their emotional response to the pictures. The
experiment was then repeated using musical extracts, rather than pictures,
and asked to identify whether a trumpet played.
Goldberg found that when the sensory stimulus was shown slowly, and when a
personal emotional response was required, the volunteers showed activity in
the superfrontal gyrus — the brain region associated with
But when the card flipping and musical sequences were rapid, there was no
activity in the superfrontal gyrus, despite activity in the sensory cortex
and related structures.
The regions of the brain involved in introspection and sensory perception
are completely segregated, although well connected, says Goldberg, and
when the brain needs to divert all its resources to carry out a difficult
task, the self-related cortex is inhibited.
The brains ability to switch off the self may have evolved as a
protective mechanism, he suggests. If there is a sudden danger, such as the
appearance of a snake, it is not helpful to stand around wondering how one
feels about the situation, Goldberg points out.
It is possible that research into how the brain switches self-awareness on
and off will help neurologists gain a deeper understanding of autism,
schizophrenia and other mental disorders where this functionality may be
Journal reference: Neuron (vol 50, p 329)August 11, 2006 at 5:20 pm #13341
this stuff seems to be occuring all the time and is made even more visible by chi kung practice..
by chi kung, the left brain appears to be a BIG prob when it comes to awareness becasue overthinking over segregates and leaves you feeling cool cut off, empty and separate..
couple it with smoking and loneliness and you are floating alone in a cosmic void..
tv andf videogames are REAL bad.. just watch children teens turn into strange spaced out arcade zombies following a heavy dose..
also notice the disorientation that occurs when you feel like yourself vs when you are “car wacky” or have been thinking too much..
contemporary research confirms that the left brain language centers OVER develop neurons and become lopsided ESPECIALLY when you over think in multiple languages..
also, synaesthesia has been PROVEN to be a cross connect at a neuron level between audio and visual.. there also appears to be a multimedia processing zone in the fore lobe that can’t help but make me think of dolphins..
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.