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佛教禅修提高理性思维
来源:迈克尔·黑德勒,米勒-麦库恩 日期:2015-08-14 浏览量:1637

【研究者简介】乌利齐·柯克(Ulrich Kirk),神经科学博士,贝勒医学院和多伦多大学博士后,研究助理教授,研究领域为价值取向和决策中的自我调整神经生物学,近来更多的研究选择和动机的情感交互过程,在研项目为采用正念禅定探究其对大脑和行为的影响。


人类在权衡奖励时不是完全理性的,这并不是什么秘密,例如,我们可能会因为挣很多钱而一直非常地高兴——直到我们发现隔壁的家伙挣得更多。 

但是,一项新的研究显示有规律地进行佛教禅修训练的人确实能够不同程度地处理这些一般的社会问题——研究者通过大脑扫描来证实这个结果。 

乌利齐·柯克和他的合作者们在休斯顿的贝勒医学院进行了一个著名的实验,叫做最后通牒游戏,试验中有40名对照组和 26名长期禅修者参与。实验是这样的: 

一个人有一笔钱去和另一个人分,如果另一个人接受了这些钱,他们两个就把钱装进口袋里离开;但是如果这个人(他或她)认为这些钱太少而不接受——这经常会出人意料地发生——他们俩就会什么都没有。 

合理的过程是应当接受任何拟议的提议,因为得到总比什么都没有强。但是,最后通牒游戏显示,对很多人来说,情绪胜过理性。被公平对待比得到经济利益更重要。 

柯克的对照组拥有20美元要在他们当中分。当非常不均匀地分配时(自己留19美元,而仅分出去1美元),72%的受试者拒绝这钱,这意味着双方都要空着手离开。然而,当禅修者进行试验时,只有46%的人拒绝这明显不公平的分配,一大半人愿意接受给他们的钱。 

受试者们进行这个游戏试验时躺在一个具有功能磁共振成像的扫描仪内,这使得研究人员能够观察到受试者们对不同比例的金钱分配做出反应时他们大脑的哪一区域变得活跃。在早期最后通牒游戏的实验中,可以看到当对照组面临不公平的分配时,大脑结构中前脑岛的活动性增加——这是一个与厌恶情绪链接的区域。 

但是,禅修者的大脑反应区域却非常不同,他们的大脑活跃区域和内部感受有关——表征身体内部状态的区域。实际上,研究者在两组的神经反应上发现有非常小的重叠部分。 

柯克从休斯顿禅修中心和其他地方的佛教组织招募禅修者,他想探索一个与通常认知神经科学所研究的情绪控制机制不同的机制。 

 “对我们来说,一个更符合生态的做法似乎是应该看正念禅定的效果”,他说。“与情绪调节相反,念住是采用一个人经历的外部视角来改变他们的情绪,而不是通过分散注意力或重塑语境来改变情绪。” 

柯克现在是弗吉尼亚理工学院人类神经影像实验室的研究助理教授,他说,当禅修者的行为通常看起来比大多数受试者更“理性”时,他们没有使用侧前额皮质——大脑内通常与冷和计算推理有关的区域。 

在一些禅修者进行完脑扫描之后,柯克也非正式地会见他们。“他们说,实际上分配并不像不公平,更确切地说,差别并不等于不公平。”柯克说。“这似乎是‘不同’的感知在禅修者中引起很小的反应。” 


 智悲翻译中心

译者:圆悲

校对:圆唐


附原文:

Study: Buddhist MeditationPromotes Rational Thinking

Studies looking at the brains of people playing a fairness game found very different responses between Buddhist meditators and other participants.

MICHAEL HAEDERLE   ·   AUG 11, 2011  


It's no secret that humans are not entirely rational when it comes to weighing rewards.   For example, we might be perfectly happy with how much money we're making — until   we find out how much more the guy in the next cubicle is being paid.

But a new study suggests that people who regularly practice Buddhist meditationactually  process these common social situations differently—and the researchers have the brain  scans to prove it.

Ulrich Kirk and collaborators at Baylor Medical College in Houston had 40 control subjects and 26 longtime meditators participate in a well-known experiment called the Ultimatum Game. It goes like this:

One person has a sum of money to split with another person. If the other person accepts the offer, they both walk away with cash in their pocket, but if he or she rejects the offer   as too chintzy — which happens surprisingly often — neither receives anything.

The rational course is to accept any offer that is proposed, because getting something is better than  nothing  at  all,  but  the Ultimatum Game suggests that for many  people,  emotion  trumps reason.  Being  treated  fairly  is  more  important  than  coming  out  ahead  financially.

Kirk's  subjects  had  $20  to  split  among  themselves.   When  the  offers  were   wildly asymmetrical (keeping $19 for oneself, while offering only $1), 72 percent of  the controls refused the money, meaning both parties left empty-handed. But when the  meditators played, only 46 percent rejected such blatantly unfair offers. More than half  were  willing to take whatever they were offered.

The  test  subjects  played  the  game while lying inside a functional magnetic resonance  imaging scanner, enabling the researchers to see which  areas  of  their  brains  became  active as they responded to various monetary offers. As in earlier experiments with the Ultimatum Game, the control subjects saw increased activity in a  brain  structure  called the anterior insula when they were confronted with an unfair offer — an area linked to  the  emotion of disgust.

But the meditators' brains reacted quite differently,  activating  brain  areas  associated with interoception—the representation of the body's internal state. In fact, the researchers  found very little overlap in the two groups' neural responses.

Kirk, who recruited his meditators from the Houston Zen Center and other local Buddhist groups, wanted to explore a different mechanism for managing their emotions than the ones usually studied in cognitive neuroscience.

"To us it seemed that a more ecological way of doing this would be to see the effects of mindfulness," he says. "Mindfulness, as opposed to emotion regulation, is using an outside perspective on one's experiences, rather than changing their content (through distraction) or context (through reframing)."

Kirk,  now  a  research  assistant professor with the Human Neuroimaging Laboratory at Virginia Tech, says that while the meditators' behavior seems generally more "rational"   than that of most of the controls, they did not use the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the  part of the brain usually associated with cold, calculated reasoning.

He also informally interviewed many of the meditators after they  underwent  the  brain  scans. "They  reported  that  the  offers  did  not  actually  seem  unfair,  or rather, that 'difference' doesn't equal unfairness," Kirk says. "It was as if the perception of difference incites less reactivity in meditators."




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