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Toward a functional contextualist neuroscience – some considerations ACBS WC8 Reno June 22nd 2010 Benjamin Schoendorff MSc

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Presentation on theme: "Toward a functional contextualist neuroscience – some considerations ACBS WC8 Reno June 22nd 2010 Benjamin Schoendorff MSc"— Presentation transcript:

1 Toward a functional contextualist neuroscience – some considerations ACBS WC8 Reno June 22nd 2010 Benjamin Schoendorff MSc

2 Aim of talk Look at some cool studies Propose a possible way forward for neuroscience that could help better integration with a functional contextualist perspective Hide my vast ignorance of the subject

3 Goal of a functional contextualist neuroscience Prediction and influence of behavior Precision, depth and scope Give non-reductive accounts across levels (psychological/neurobiological) Criteria: Consistency across levels Clinical utility Process-based (Fletcher, Hayes, Schoendorff 2010)

4 Words of caution for funkycons… Neuroscientists tend to look for : The neural basis of [social] cognition. brain areas that are responsible for [empathy] representations [of others’ pain] I like to think of the brain as a muscle

5 ACT processes Acceptance Defusion Present moment Self-as-context Values Committed action Mid-level terms Mapping onto clinically relevant processes Contextually defined Largely interacting As yet no neuroscience studies of ACT processes But interesting studies nonetheless…

6 Mindfulness and neuroscience Lots of studies… But mindfulness topographically (meditation)rather than functionally defined No point-to-point mapping of the four ACT mindfulness processes: Acceptance Defusion Present moment Self-as-context Values Committed action

7 ACT processes Acceptance Defusion Present moment Self-as-context Values Committed action Moving away Aversive Moving toward Appetitive Noticing Sensory Mental/verbal

8 Attentional effects 3 months meditation retreat Attentional blink paradigm Brefczynski-Lewis et al 2007 E G G Z Z A N 3 Q P G 2 W Q E G G Z Z A N 3 Q P W Q

9 Attention is plastic

10 More plasticity Increased cortical thickness in Anterior Insula (Lazar 2005, Hölzel 2008) Activation of insula consistent across studies (eg: Farb et al. 2007)

11 Main findings Meditation activates and strengthens  Attentional networks and performance  Insula

12 Clinical relevance? Meditation is good? Is that for neuroscience to validate? What brain activations/plastic changes correlate with clinically relevant change? Perhaps insular habituation to interoceptive stimuli reduces avoidance and anxiety? Contrast with exposure therapy?

13 Meditation on the brain… Are topographically different forms of meditation functionally similar ? Are topographically similar forms of meditation functionally different ? What are the clinically relevant brain activations ?  More clinical relevance

14 Empathy in context Empathy (pain, disgust, taste, touch) Anterior Cingulate, Secondary somatosensory cortex, Anterior insula (Hein & Singer. 2008) Perspective-taking : Medial prefrontal cortex, Temporal pole, Superior temporal sulcus, Temporal junction

15 Empathy and social cognition affective state (excludes perspective-taking) isomorphic to another person’s state (excludes sympathy) elicited by observation or imagination of another’s affective state (excludes self- observation) one knows that the other person is the source of one’s own affective state (excludes contagion) (deVignemont & Singer 2005)

16 Empathy in context Automatic or contextual response? Empathy pathways activation modulated by : sex of observer, attention, intensity of painful stimulus, affective link between observer and sufferer, rationale for pain (de Vignemont & Singer 06) or even whether observer is vegetarian/omnivorous (Betti et al. 2009) What of RFT-designed experiments…

17 Empathy in context Omnivore Vegetarian Vegan (Fillippi et al. 2010) Likely plastic Values-sensitive

18 Empathy in context - synchrony ‘Empathic resonance’ in the shape of γ- band coherence in SI and MI cortices when observing painful stimulation of another’s hand (Betti et al 2009) So role of networks rather than areas… Wider brain context (Lutz et al. 2008)

19 Compassion and admiration The first values-driven neuroscientific study? (Immordino-Yang et al. 2009) Compassion for social pain Admiration for moral virtue Empathy for physical pain Admiration for physical skill

20 AV/CSP produced more activation in regions involved in homeostatic regulation : ACC, AI, HT AS/CPP produced more activation in regions related to the musculoskeletal system : PI, LPC (inc SMG) SPL A cool study for ACT (Immordino-Yang et al. 2009)

21 AV/CSP produced more activation in regions involved in homeostatic regulation (ACC, AI, HT). AS/CPP produced more activation in regions related to the musculoskeletal system (PI, LPC - inc SMG – SPL)

22 Role of TPJ and mPFC Central role in social cognition processes: Intentionality, ToM, Integration of non-simultaneous perceptions (relational framing?) (Overwalle 2009) (Immordino-Yang et al. 2009)

23 Dn300 fronto-central parieto occipital dN400 fronto-parietal for equivalence RFT and neuroscience Work on equivalence classes Reflexivity vs Equivalence (arbitrarily derived from previous training) Unrelated equivalence Unrelated reflexivity Early component matching effect on reflexivity, late component equivalence matching effect P3 (Yoro et al. 2009)

24 Tentative conclusions Functions of contextual neuroscience ? Consistency across level eg: experiential avoidance and left hemishphere in avoiding unpleasant images (Cochrane et al 2008) Perhaps more interesting to look from point of view of RFT processes Clinical utility ?


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