Research scientist and professor at New York University, Zoran Josipovic, has spent the last three years jamming monks into a a giant brain scanner. His goal? To figure out what exactly happens when the meditative mind hits a state of “oneness with the universe.”
A larger part of the research done by Dr. Josipovic, a monk himself, has to do with the way the mind delegates tasks between what scientists call the intrinsic network and the default network; intrinsic dealing with external tasks, while the default network handles the internal thoughts. These two networks rarely, if ever, operate at the same time.
“What we’re trying to do is basically track the changes in the networks in the brain as the person shifts between these modes of attention,” Dr Josipovic says.
So where do the monks come into play? Since 2008, Dr Josipovic has scanned the brains of over 20 Tibetan monks and noticed that many of these individuals are able to keep both brain networks working when reaching a state of mediation. This may very well account for the so-called feeling of “oneness” or “duality”.
The end result of these tests could lend a hand in studies on psychological disorders that target the default network, such as Alzheimer’s.
For the full story, visit The BBC.