Neuropsychology & buddhism?

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Neuropsychology & buddhism?

Postby Admiral » Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:35 pm

Hi pals (:

I'm seriously thinking about starting neuropsychology studies at university...
But is neuropsychology really far from what Buddha taught?
I don't want to study something that's absolutely against what's taught in the dhamma.

What do you think of it? :s
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Re: Neuropsychology & buddhism?

Postby PeterB » Tue Jun 29, 2010 3:12 pm

Neuropsychology is in no way contrary to Dhamma. Anymore than anatomy and physiology is contrary to Dhamma.
It is a different view of one part of the functioning of the temporary combination of conditions that we call a human being.
And it is a view which has the potential to reduce the suffering of human beings.
It is a good thing.
And a good thing that those interested in Buddhadhamma should contribute to the study of neuropsychology.
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Re: Neuropsychology & buddhism?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Tue Jun 29, 2010 5:41 pm

Great! You can do research in meditation, a good contribution to society.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: Neuropsychology & buddhism?

Postby Donuts Dad » Tue Jun 29, 2010 6:15 pm

Dear Admiral,

I've had to deal with a lot of doctors and I've never met one who wouldn't have benefited professionally from exposure to the Dhamma.

One of my sons is autistic and has epilepsy. Our choices for treatment were always either neurology or psychology, neither of which is especially effectual on it's own. A neuropsychologist dealing with both the physical and emotional at the same time would have been a great help to him.

Best of luck
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Re: Neuropsychology & buddhism?

Postby Monkey Mind » Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:13 am

I studied neuropsychology at the same time I was taking Buddhist Study classes. I found a lot of material to be consistent rather than contradictory. I was amazed that Buddha drew some of the same conclusions 2600 years ago as neuroscientists today, without the benefit of a microscope. Of course, not every thing was a perfect match, but I was still very impressed.

I agree with Modus.Ponens. Some of my favorite meditation factoids:
When a person is exposed to an obnoxious but predictably repeating noise, their brain waves eventually habituate to the sound. Experienced Zen meditators, however, never habituate to the sound.
Neural density in the prefrontal cortex of the brain naturally declines with age. Meditators demonstrate a significantly reduced rate of decline.
Meditation and chanting look similar on brain imaging, with two exceptions. With chanting, obviously the vocal and hearing centers of the brain light up. The interesting difference is that emotional centers are cool with meditation and light up like a Christmas tree with chanting.
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710
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Re: Neuropsychology & buddhism?

Postby Nibbida » Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:36 am

I am a neuropsychologist. I trained clinically and teach in academia. This is really an interesting time to be studying neuroscience and be involved in Dhamma practice, given the dialog and collaborations going on between meditators and scientists.

The Buddha really didn't talk about the brain much, if at all. But in studying neuropsychology, you will find much that echoes the Dhamma. Take for example anatta. There is no part of the brain in which the self resides. Sure if you damage the brain, it can alter the sense of self, but there's no place you can point to and say, "Yup, there it is." Rather, the self is a mental construct, and there are several systems in the brain whose activity reflects the construction of a sense of self. But it's not a thing, an object, it's an activity, a process.

When the Buddha said that repeated actions wear a groove in the mind. In the Dvedhavitakka Sutta, he said that "Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking & pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness." Neuropsychologists call this neuroplasticity. Repeated actions and thoughts reinforce synaptic pathways, which makes it easier to repeat that action or thought in the future.

Pretty interesting stuff.
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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Re: Neuropsychology & buddhism?

Postby Admiral » Thu Jul 01, 2010 3:12 pm

Thanks a lot for all these answers :namaste:

I think I'll definitly choose this path.
I'm afraid it will be difficult to work as a neuropsychologist in France, but I'll do my best :D
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Re: Neuropsychology & buddhism?

Postby Goedert » Thu Jul 01, 2010 7:07 pm

Hi Friend,

You can do academic studies about meditation and contribute for the wellfare of many pacients also.

It is a very good one, give it a try.


True happiness to you.
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Re: Neuropsychology & buddhism?

Postby Nibbida » Fri Jul 02, 2010 4:10 am

I just posted this about an article in Scientific American Mind about the self from psychological and neuroscience findings:

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=4848

The highlights from the article:

* "We perceive the “I” as stable, but the self is actually a construct that the brain works constantly to maintain.
* Self-knowledge involves both simple mental processes, such as knowing where one’s body is in space, and complex ones, such as fabricating a life story out of past events.
* A critical aspect of self-awareness is the ability to recognize and temper one’s emotions."


Sounds awfully Dhamma-like to me.
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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Re: Neuropsychology & buddhism?

Postby Admiral » Fri Jul 02, 2010 9:12 am

Thansk for the link, it's really interresting :o
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