Brandon King, PhD is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar in the Saron Lab at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain studying the effects of meditation training on empathy and emotional engagement with suffering. He is interested in how meditation training might shift motivational engagement with others’ suffering, as a possible antecedent for compassionate responding. In his dissertation research (also completed in the Saron Lab), Brandon employed measures of peripheral physiology and memory to examine the effects of a 3-month intensive meditation retreat on practitioners’ emotional responses to suffering in others. Brandon currently co-leads the Pathways Project—a study of how different contemplative training styles influence engagement with emotional stimuli depicting threats or harm to self and others. For this, he led the development of a novel stimulus set, informed by his work on his dissertation, that allows researchers to disambiguate responses to different classes of emotionally challenging stimuli. More broadly, he is interested in different approaches to meditation training and the role of intensive meditation retreats in contemplative practice. He hopes to understand and characterize what motivates people to meditate, how practitioners balance daily practice with more intensive forms of practice, and how the benefits of intensive practice are consolidated or integrated into everyday life.

This profile was last updated on February 14, 2023

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