Exploring Neuroplasticity Part I

Exploring Neuroplasticity Part I


This session delved further into the brain circuits underlying emotion and social behavior, exploring how neuroscientists approach these topics. Richard Davidson first introduced the field of affective neuroscience and focus on brain mechanisms of emotional learning and emotion regulation. He discussed the involvement of these circuits in producing craving and attachment, and how contemplative training can impact these circuits while cultivating emotional balance. Tania Singer complemented this view by introducing the field of social neuroscience, focusing on the questions of how people relate to and understand each other. She distinguished cognitive perspective taking from concepts of emotion contagion, empathy and compassion; the former represents a cognitive route to the understanding of others, the latter a motivational and affective one. Compassion is closely linked to a motivational system routed in affiliation and care, which in turn is associated with specific brain systems that help increase trust and reduce fear. Geshe Dadul Namgyal offered remarks from the Buddhist perspective on issues relating to affective and social neuroscience findings.

  • Dialogue 26
    27 sessions
  • January 19, 2013
    Drepung Monastery, Mundgod, India
  • share


Richard Davidson

Richard J. Davidson, PhD, is the founder and chairman of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, and the director of the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience and the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, both at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He was educated at New York University and Harvard University, where he received his bachelor’s of arts and PhD degrees, respectively, in psychology. Over the course of his research career, he has focused on the relationship between brain and emotion. He is currently the William James professor and Vilas research professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin. He is co-author or editor of 13 books, including Visions of Compassion: Western Scientists and Tibetan Buddhists Examine Human Nature, The Handbook of Affective Science, and The Emotional Life of Your Brain. Davidson has published more than 300 chapters and journal articles, and is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards for his work, including the Research Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has served on the board of directors for the Mind & Life Institute since 1992. In 2006, Time named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and he received the first Mani Bhaumik Award from UCLA for advances in the understanding of the role of the brain and the conscious mind in healing.