Research output

Studying emotions in neuroscientific meditation research. Ethics and epistemology entangled?

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During the last two decades, the study of meditation has become an increasingly popular niche of research in the neurosciences. Conceptualised as a cognitive training or emotional regulation, neuroscientists study meditation as a tool to enhance concentration, a means to reduce risks of various diseases, an addition to psychotherapy, or a lifestyle that fosters wellbeing. These effects of meditation are currently investigated in the Silver Santé Study, a European project on the impacts of meditation on ageing and well-being of elderly participants.
To study the impacts of meditation on emotional well-being, a brain scanning task is
supposed to measure how meditation alters participants’ emotional responses to videos with content of suffering. Participants’ reactions to the videos vary. A few participants complain about the video selection either because they feel appalled or because they do not know how to feel while watching the videos. Others do not experience any emotions to scenes of hardship, war and natural catastrophes in developing countries that they are used to from television news.
To what extent do the videos in the video task produce or reinforce politically charged
stereotypes of suffering and biases? What are the scientific and ethical implications of the videos and such biases? How are epistemology and ethics entangled? What are the
possibilities and means of a laboratory ethnographer to support the improvement of a
research task? Based on the presentation of results from interviews and participant
observation in the Silver Santé Study, the panel audience is invited to discuss these questions.
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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBias in AI and Neuroscience
Subtitle of host publicationTransdisciplinary Conference. 17-19 June 2019
Place of PublicationRadboud University, Nijmegen
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2019