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An empirical examination of the factor structure of compassion

An empirical examination of the factor structure of compassion | Contemplative Neuroscience | Scoop.it
Compassion has long been regarded as a core part of our humanity by contemplative traditions, and in recent years, it has received growing research interest. Following a recent review of existing conceptualisations, compassion has been defined as consisting of the following five elements: 1) recognising suffering, 2) understanding the universality of suffering in human experience, 3) feeling moved by the person suffering and emotionally connecting with their distress, 4) tolerating uncomfortable feelings aroused (e.g., fear, distress) so that we remain open to and accepting of the person suffering, and 5) acting or being motivated to act to alleviate suffering. As a prerequisite to developing a high quality compassion measure and furthering research in this field, the current study empirically investigated the factor structure of the five-element definition using a combination of existing and newly generated self-report items. This study consisted of three stages: a systematic consultation with experts to review items from existing self-report measures of compassion and generate additional items (Stage 1), exploratory factor analysis of items gathered from Stage 1 to identify the underlying structure of compassion (Stage 2), and confirmatory factor analysis to validate the identified factor structure (Stage 3). Findings showed preliminary empirical support for a five-factor structure of compassion consistent with the five-element definition. However, findings indicated that the ‘tolerating’ factor may be problematic and not a core aspect of compassion. This possibility requires further empirical testing. Limitations with items from included measures lead us to recommend against using these items collectively to assess compassion. Instead, we call for the development of a new self-report measure of compassion, using the five-element definition to guide item generation. We recommend including newly generated ‘tolerating’ items in the initial item pool, to determine whether or not factor-level issues are resolved once item-level issues are addressed.
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Contemplative Neuroscience
curated research and relevant news for contemplative neuroscience, mindfulness, the self, and consciousness
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Meditation and successful aging: can meditative practices counteract age-related cognitive decline? - PubMed - NCBI

Meditation and successful aging: can meditative practices counteract age-related cognitive decline? - PubMed - NCBI | Contemplative Neuroscience | Scoop.it
Geriatr Psychol Neuropsychiatr Vieil. 2017 Jun 1;15(2):205-213. doi: 10.1684/pnv.2017.0672.
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How Mind-Body Practice Works-Integration or Separation? - PubMed - NCBI

How Mind-Body Practice Works-Integration or Separation? - PubMed - NCBI | Contemplative Neuroscience | Scoop.it
Front Psychol. 2017 May 26;8:866. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00866. eCollection 2017.
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Why Mindfulness Fails | Skeptic Meditations

Why Mindfulness Fails | Skeptic Meditations | Contemplative Neuroscience | Scoop.it
Using meditation to fix or gain something is doomed to fail, say Buddhist meditation teachers. The practice of mindfulness, Western Buddhists argue, should be a sustained, quiet exploration and awareness of inside out, rather than a practice for gain of self, power, or control. As Buddhism has been mainstreamed, its teachings have often been offered not as part of …
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Publication date: 15 July 2017
Source:NeuroImage, Volume 155
Author(s): Idalmis Santiesteban, Simran Kaur, Geoffrey Bird, Caroline Catmur
Mentalizing is a fundamental process underpinning human social interaction. Claims of the existence of ‘implicit mentalizing’ represent a fundamental shift in our understanding of this important skill, suggesting that preverbal infants and even animals may be capable of mentalizing. One of the most influential tasks supporting such claims in adults is the dot perspective-taking task, but demonstrations of similar performance on this task for mentalistic and non-mentalistic stimuli have led to the suggestion that this task in fact measures domain-general processes, rather than implicit mentalizing. A mentalizing explanation was supported by fMRI data claiming to show greater activation of brain areas involved in mentalizing, including right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ), when participants made self-perspective judgements in a mentalistic, but not in a non-mentalistic condition, an interpretation subsequently challenged. Here we provide the first causal test of the mentalizing claim using disruptive transcranial magnetic stimulation of rTPJ during self-perspective judgements. We found no evidence for a distinction between mentalistic and non-mentalistic stimuli: stimulation of rTPJ impaired performance on all self-perspective trials, regardless of the mentalistic/non-mentalistic nature of the stimulus. Our data support a domain-general attentional interpretation of performance on the dot perspective-taking task, a role which is subserved by the rTPJ.
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Frontiers | Corrigendum: Both attention and prediction are necessary for adaptive neuronal tuning in sensory processing | Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

Frontiers | Corrigendum: Both attention and prediction are necessary for adaptive neuronal tuning in sensory processing | Frontiers in Human Neuroscience | Contemplative Neuroscience | Scoop.it
Corrigendum: Both attention and prediction are necessary for adaptive neuronal tuning in sensory processing
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Superiority Complex of Meditators | Skeptic Meditations

Superiority Complex of Meditators | Skeptic Meditations | Contemplative Neuroscience | Scoop.it
Meditation systems often instill followers with harmful ideas of superiority. The attitude of superiority by meditators, yogis, and avatars is morally, spiritually, and scientifically bankrupt. Violence or agression need not be overt or expressed physically to be harmful. Destructive ideas, even notions of passivity, can breed indifference and incite actions of hostility towards others, especially outsiders. …
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A Brain Model of Disturbed Self-Appraisal in Depression: American Journal of Psychiatry: Vol 0, No 0

American Journal of Psychiatry, Ahead of Print.
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Publication date: 15 August 2017
Source:NeuroImage, Volume 157
Author(s): Teresa K. Pegors, Steven Tompson, Matthew Brook O’Donnell, Emily B. Falk
Neural activity in medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), identified as engaging in self-related processing, predicts later health behavior change. However, it is unknown to what extent individual differences in neural representation of content and lived experience influence this brain-behavior relationship. We examined whether the strength of content-specific representations during persuasive messaging relates to later behavior change, and whether these relationships change as a function of individuals’ social network composition. In our study, smokers viewed anti-smoking messages while undergoing fMRI and we measured changes in their smoking behavior one month later. Using representational similarity analyses, we found that the degree to which message content (i.e. health, social, or valence information) was represented in a self-related processing MPFC region was associated with later smoking behavior, with increased representations of negatively valenced (risk) information corresponding to greater message-consistent behavior change. Furthermore, the relationship between representations and behavior change depended on social network composition: smokers who had proportionally fewer smokers in their network showed increases in smoking behavior when social or health content was strongly represented in MPFC, whereas message-consistent behavior (i.e., less smoking) was more likely for those with proportionally more smokers in their social network who represented social or health consequences more strongly. These results highlight the dynamic relationship between representations in MPFC and key outcomes such as health behavior change; a complete understanding of the role of MPFC in motivation and action should take into account individual differences in neural representation of stimulus attributes and social context variables such as social network composition.
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Theta band transcranial alternating current stimulations modulates network behavior of dorsal anterior cingulate cortex

Theta band transcranial alternating current stimulations modulates network behavior of dorsal anterior cingulate cortex | Contemplative Neuroscience | Scoop.it
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Publication date: Available online 10 June 2017
Source:Consciousness and Cognition
Author(s): Yung-Hao Yang, Jifan Zhou, Kuei-An Li, Tifan Hung, Alan J. Pegna, Su-Ling Yeh
We examined whether semantic processing occurs without awareness using continuous flash suppression (CFS). In two priming tasks, participants were required to judge whether a target was a word or a non-word, and to report whether the masked prime was visible. Experiment 1 manipulated the lexical congruency between the prime-target pairs and Experiment 2 manipulated their semantic relatedness. Despite the absence of behavioral priming effects (Experiment 1), the ERP results revealed that an N4 component was sensitive to the prime-target lexical congruency (Experiment 1) and semantic relatedness (Experiment 2) when the prime was rendered invisible under CFS. However, these results were reversed with respect to those that emerged when the stimuli were perceived consciously. Our findings suggest that some form of lexical and semantic processing can occur during CFS-induced unawareness, but are associated with different electrophysiological outcomes.
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Publication date: Available online 27 May 2017
Source:Consciousness and Cognition
Author(s): Renate Rutiku, Talis Bachmann
Electroencephalographic (EEG) potentials have remained a valuable source of data and theories concerning neural correlates of consciousness (NCC). The EEG based methods are far from being exhausted and are continually valuable in the quest for the markers of NCC. To set the background for the research presented in this issue, we review the published work on EEG-based markers of NCC. The article is organized according to the principle of the time-course aspect of brain potentials with regard to the stimuli for which subject’s awareness is experimentally measured and/or manipulated. We treat brain potentials as the principal dependent measure as well as independent variable. More specifically, we also draw attention to the fact that in the overwhelming share of studies relative negativization of the ERPs tends to mark NCC.
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Publication date: July 2017
Source:Consciousness and Cognition, Volume 52
Author(s): Ben Isbel, Mathew J. Summers
A capacity model of mindfulness is adopted to differentiate the cognitive faculty of mindfulness from the metacognitive processes required to cultivate this faculty in mindfulness training. The model provides an explanatory framework incorporating both the developmental progression from focussed attention to open monitoring styles of mindfulness practice, along with the development of equanimity and insight. A standardised technique for activating these processes without the addition of secondary components is then introduced. Mindfulness-based interventions currently available for use in randomised control trials introduce components ancillary to the cognitive processes of mindfulness, limiting their ability to draw clear causative inferences. The standardised technique presented here does not introduce such ancillary factors, rendering it a valuable tool with which to investigate the processes activated in mindfulness practice.
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Publication date: August 2017
Source:Consciousness and Cognition, Volume 53
Author(s): Jakob Kaiser, Graham C.L. Davey
According to theories of embodiment enacting a smile or a frown can positively or negatively influence one’s evaluations, even without awareness of one’s facial activity. While some previous studies found evidence for facial feedback effects, recent replication attempts could not confirm these findings. Are our decisions throughout the day amenable to the state of our facial muscles? We tested the effect of smiling and frowning on the evaluation of emotional sentences describing everyday situations. While most previous studies based their assessment of awareness on verbal debriefing interviews without explicitly defined criteria, we employed a written debriefing questionnaire in order to avoid potential bias when identifying participants’ awareness. Our results indicate that smiling/frowning increased/decreased sentence ratings only for participants aware of their expressions. This emphasizes the importance of more rigorous awareness tests in facial feedback studies. Our results support the view that facial feedback cannot necessarily influence us without conscious mediation.
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Prevalence and patterns of use of mantra, mindfulness and spiritual meditation among adults in the United States. - PubMed - NCBI

Prevalence and patterns of use of mantra, mindfulness and spiritual meditation among adults in the United States. - PubMed - NCBI | Contemplative Neuroscience | Scoop.it
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017 Jun 15;17(1):316. doi: 10.1186/s12906-017-1827-8.
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Neurofeedback learning modifies the incidence rate of alpha spindles, but not their duration and amplitude

Neurofeedback learning modifies the incidence rate of alpha spindles, but not their duration and amplitude | Contemplative Neuroscience | Scoop.it
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Aberrant functional connectivity in depression as an index of state and trait rumination

Aberrant functional connectivity in depression as an index of state and trait rumination | Contemplative Neuroscience | Scoop.it
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Delta coherence in resting-state EEG predicts the reduction in cigarette craving after hypnotic aversion suggestions

Delta coherence in resting-state EEG predicts the reduction in cigarette craving after hypnotic aversion suggestions | Contemplative Neuroscience | Scoop.it
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That’s me in the spotlight – Neural basis of individual differences in self-consciousness. | Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience | Oxford Academic

AbstractA long-standing literature implicates activity within the default mode network (DMN) to processes linked to the self. However, contemporary work suggests that other large-scale networks networks might also be involved. For instance, goal-directed autobiographical planning requires positive functional connectivity (FC) between DMN and frontoparietal control (FPCN) networks. The present study examined the inter-relationship between trait self-focus (measured via a self-consciousness scale; SCS), incidental memory in a self-reference paradigm, and resting state FC of large-scale networks. Behaviourally, we found that private SCS was linked to stronger incidental memory for self-relevant information. We also examined how patterns of FC differed according to levels of self-consciousness by using the SCS data to drive multiple regression analyses with seeds from the DMN, the FPCN and the limbic network. High levels of SCS was not linked to differences in the functional behaviour of the DMN, however, it was linked to stronger FC between FPCN and a cluster extending into the hippocampus, which meta analytic decoding using Neurosynth linked to episodic memory retrieval. Subsequent analysis demonstrated that trait variance in this pattern of FC was a moderator for the observed relationship between private SCS and enhanced memory for self-items. Together these findings suggest that interactions between the FPCN and hippocampus may support the memory advantage of self-relevant information associated with SCS and confirm theoretical positions that argue that that self-related processing does not simply depend upon the DMN, but instead relies on complex patterns of interactions between multiple large-scale networks.
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Alterations in the inflammatory cytokines and brain-derived neurotrophic factor contribute to depression-like phenotype after spared nerve injury: improvement by ketamine

Alterations in the inflammatory cytokines and brain-derived neurotrophic factor contribute to depression-like phenotype after spared nerve injury: improvement by ketamine | Contemplative Neuroscience | Scoop.it
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Publication date: April 2017
Source:Consciousness and Cognition, Volume 50
Author(s): Vera Hoorens, Carolien Van Damme, Marie Helweg-Larsen, Constantine Sedikides
According to the hubris hypothesis, observers respond more unfavorably to individuals who express their positive self-views comparatively than to those who express their positive self-views non-comparatively, because observers infer that the former hold a more disparaging view of others and particularly of observers. Two experiments extended the hubris hypothesis in the domain of optimism. Observers attributed less warmth (but not less competence) to, and showed less interest in affiliating with, an individual displaying comparative optimism (the belief that one’s future will be better than others’ future) than with an individual displaying absolute optimism (the belief that one’s future will be good). Observers responded differently to individuals displaying comparative versus absolute optimism, because they inferred that the former held a gloomier view of the observers’ future. Consistent with previous research, observers still attributed more positive traits to a comparative or absolute optimist than to a comparative or absolute pessimist.
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Why Does an Anesthetic Make Us Lose Consciousness?

Why Does an Anesthetic Make Us Lose Consciousness? | Contemplative Neuroscience | Scoop.it
Neuroscience News has recent neuroscience research articles, brain research news, neurology studies and neuroscience resources for neuroscientists, students, and science fans and is always free to join. Our neuroscience social network has science groups, discussion forums, free books, resources, science videos and more.
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Publication date: May 2017
Source:Consciousness and Cognition, Volume 51
Author(s): Leonardo S. Barbosa, Alexandra Vlassova, Sid Kouider
Unconscious processes have been shown to affect both perception and behaviour. However, the flexibility of such processes remains unknown. Here we investigate whether unconscious decisional processes can adapt to the utility of sensory information. To this end, we had participants gradually accumulate information from noisy motion stimuli, until a decision was reached. We titrated conscious awareness of these stimuli by simultaneously presenting a dynamic dichoptic mask. Crucially, we manipulated the likelihood that the suppressed portion of each presentation would contain useful information. Our results show that the statistics of the environment can be used to modulate unconscious evidence accumulation, resulting in faster choices. Furthermore, computational modelling revealed that this modulation is due to a change in the quality of unconscious evidence accumulation, rather than a conscious change in strategy. Together, these results indicate that unconscious decisional mechanisms are capable of optimising performance by flexibly adapting to the statistical environment.
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Publication date: Available online 11 May 2017
Source:Consciousness and Cognition
Author(s): Kathryn Schelonka, Christian Graulty, Enriqueta Canseco-Gonzalez, Michael A. Pitts
A three-phase inattentional blindness paradigm was combined with ERPs. While participants performed a distracter task, line segments in the background formed words or consonant-strings. Nearly half of the participants failed to notice these word-forms and were deemed inattentionally blind. All participants noticed the word-forms in phase 2 of the experiment while they performed the same distracter task. In the final phase, participants performed a task on the word-forms. In all phases, including during inattentional blindness, word-forms elicited distinct ERPs during early latencies (∼200–280ms) suggesting unconscious orthographic processing. A subsequent ERP (∼320–380ms) similar to the visual awareness negativity appeared only when subjects were aware of the word-forms, regardless of the task. Finally, word-forms elicited a P3b (∼400–550ms) only when these stimuli were task-relevant. These results are consistent with previous inattentional blindness studies and help distinguish brain activity associated with pre- and post-perceptual processing from correlates of conscious perception.
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Awareness in the crowd: Beta power and alpha phase of prestimulus oscillations predict object discrimination in visual crowding

Publication date: Available online 11 May 2017
Source:Consciousness and Cognition
Author(s): Luca Ronconi, Rosilari Bellacosa Marotti
Visual crowding is among the factors that most hamper conscious object perception. However, we currently ignore the neural states that predispose to an accurate perception within different crowding regimes. Here, we performed single-trial analyses of the electroencephalographical (EEG) oscillations, evaluating the prestimulus power and phase differences between correct and incorrect discrimination during a letter-crowding task, where irrelevant letters were placed nearby (strong crowding) or far (mid crowding) relative to the target. Results show that prestimulus alpha (8–12Hz) power was related to target discrimination in the mid, but not in the strong, crowding condition. Importantly, accurate discrimination in the strong crowding condition was predicted by the phase of alpha and by the power of beta (13–20Hz) oscillations. These evidence suggest that both periodic visual sampling mechanisms, reflected in the alpha phase, and network predisposition to extract local information, reflected in the beta power, predispose to object discrimination in a crowded scene.
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