This project is a theoretical and experimental pilot investigation of the impact of contemplative practices on concepts — the fundamental building blocks of cognition. The exploration focuses on intentionality of concepts as their property of representing entities whilst being detached from them. Terms such as ‘metacognitive insight’ (Teasdale et al., 2002), ‘re-perceiving’ (Shapiro et al., 2006) or ‘de-reification’ (Dunne, 2012) are used to describe the explicit awareness of the distinction between the actual objects concepts represent and concepts themselves. In clinical conditions, this understanding can lead to detachment from anxious or depressive thought patterns which can prevent further spiraling into mental illness. In the Buddhist context, de-reification is central to both intellectual understanding and experiential practices in traditions focusing on non-duality such as Dzogchen. The proposed research project falls into Stand two under laboratory-based projects and aims to: (1) Examine the notion of de-reification from the perspectives of theory and practice in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of Dzogchen and explore possible links to self-report and neurocognitive assessments of de-reification. (2) Investigate the feasibility of experimental neurocognitive research into de-reification in a pilot study using self-report, behavioural and event-related brain potential markers of conceptual processing.

Dusana Dorjee, PhD

Bangor University