Self-Specific Processing in the Meditating Brain: A Meg Neurophenomenology Study

Yair Dor-Ziderman, Yochai Ataria, Stephen Fulder, Abraham Goldstein, Aviva Berkovich-Ohana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Self-specific processes (SSPs) specify the self as an embodied subject and agent, implementing a functional self/nonself distinction in perception, cognition, and action. Despite recent interest, it is still undetermined whether SSPs are all-or-nothing or graded phenomena; whether they can be identified in neuroimaging data; and whether they can be altered through attentional training. These issues are approached through a neurophenomenological exploration of the sense-of-boundaries (SB), the fundamental experience of being an 'I' (self) separated from the 'world' (nonself). The SB experience was explored in collaboration with a uniquely qualified meditation practitioner, who volitionally produced, while being scanned by magnetoencephalogram (MEG), three mental states characterized by a graded SB experience. The results were then partly validated in an independent group of 10 long-term meditators. Implicated neural mechanisms include right-lateralized beta oscillations in the temporo-parietal junction, a region known to mediate the experiential unity of self and body; and in the medial parietal cortex, a central node of the self's representational system. The graded nature as well as the trainable flexibility and neural plasticity of SSPs may hold clinical implications for populations with a disturbed SB.
Original languageAmerican English
Article numberniw019
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalNeuroscience of Consciousness,
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2016


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