Prelude to Probing Basic Cognitive Processes in Samatha Meditation

Prelude to Probing Basic Cognitive Processes in Samatha Meditation


Samatha meditation, the foundation of Tibetan Buddhist contemplative techniques, is devoted to achieving stability and vividness of the attention (Wallace, 1998). Opposing these objectives, there are several serious hindrances, including attentional laxity and excitation (e.g., wandering thoughts and mental chatter), which must be surmounted in order for attentional stability and vividness to be achieved. Consequently, scientific research on Buddhist meditation should investigate the nature of both the basic cognitive processes that underlie such hindrances and the executive cognitive control processes that may help alleviate them through diligent practice. This investigation can benefit from several sources of empirical and theoretical insight provided by Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience, including: (1) the distinction between procedural and declarative knowledge; (2) the role of verbal working memory in self programming and self-monitoring; (3) the description of executive cognitive control in terms of modern computer science and computational modeling; and (4) the analysis of human information-processing capacities and limitations based on behavioral data about multi-tasking.

  • SRI 1
    4 sessions
  • June 22, 2004
    Garrison, New York
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David Meyer

David Meyer is a faculty member of the Cognition and Perception Program in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. A mathematical psychologist and cognitive scientist, he received his Ph. D. from Michigan and subsequently worked for almost a decade as a Member of Technical Staff in the Human Information Processing Research Department at the Bell Telephone Laboratories before returning to academe. His teaching and research - sponsored by the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Mental Health, and Office of Naval Research - have dealt with fundamental aspects of human perception, attention, learning, memory, language, movement production, multitasking, executive mental control, human-computer interaction, personality and cognitive style, cognitive aging, cognitive neuroscience, mathematical models, and unified computational theories. Numerous reports of this research have appeared in books and journals such as Science, Psychological Review, Cognitive Psychology, Memory & Cognition, Journal of Experimental Psychology, Journal of Memory and Language, and volumes of the Attention and Performance symposium series. After completing their doctoral degrees, Professor Meyer's many graduate students have taken professional positions at major universities and research institutions throughout the U.S. and abroad. For his diverse scientific contributions, Prof. Meyer has been elected as a Fellow in the Society of Experimental Psychologists, American Psychological Society, American Psychological Association, and American Association for The Advancement of Science. The American Psychological Association has honored him with its Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award. His professional activities have also included extensive service on journal editorial boards, government review panels, and international administrative committees.