Dayna Stimson Humanities and Social Science
Buddhist Contemplative Practice: An Integrative Approach for Investigating Consciousness
My research focuses on the growing recognition that the scientific study of consciousness is lacking in one crucial element: a rigorous methodology for examining the first-person, qualitative aspects of conscious states. While neuroimaging and computational cognition have greatly enhanced our knowledge of brain function, we are no closer to bridging the explanatory gap. That is, how does neuronal activity create the deeply complex, subjective, and personal world that each of us experiences? Though conventional scientific study does not currently recognize introspection as a valid method of inquiry, I will examine the ways in which Buddhist contemplative practices may be used to study consciousness directly, as they have been used for more than 2,000 years. I seek to define and develop a precise methodology of meditation techniques to be used in conjunction with neuroscientific studies to heighten our understanding of consciousness. I will spend my time perusing the literature on contemplative studies, as well as developing my own meditative practice.