Mapping the Brain Activity of Buddhist Monks

Electroencephalogram (EEG) caps are helping Kent State University researchers unlock the secrets of the mind.

David Fresco, Ph.D., professor and director of Kent State’s Psychopathology and Emotion Regulation Laboratory (PERL) and co-director of the Kent Electrophysiological Neuroscience Laboratory (KENL), returned to the Sera Jey Monastery in Bylakuppe, India, to better understand what goes on in the brains of monks as they hold a debate.

The researchers are studying brain activity, specifically what happens when neurons synchronize.

“Are they activating the same parts of their brain when they’re debating?” Fresco asked. “And if they do bring their brains into this harmony or synchrony, are we seeing a more successful resolution to the debate?”

In their first trip to India, researchers put electroencephalogram caps on two monks per session and time-locked their brain activation patterns to see if they were bringing their brains into synchrony.

“Low and behold, there did seem to be a correspondence in the brain activation in the moments where the play-by-play monk thought there was something more harmonious, and less synchrony when the monks were more discordant with what they were saying,” Fresco said.

Fresco and researchers have since returned to Sera Jey Monastery to gather additional data. Learn more about the study in The Times of India.

POSTED: Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - 10:37am
UPDATED: Tuesday, April 2, 2019 - 2:07pm
Kristin Anderson