Fondazione Antonio Ratti

Stephen Whitmarsh

Metacognition and Nonreactivity in Mindfulness

23 July 2013
FAR – Villa Sucota

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"During the lecture at the Fondazione Antonio Ratti, I will talk about my doctoral thesis Metacognition and Nonreactivity in Mindfulness. In my thesis, I investigated how, from its historical roots in Buddhism, mindfulness has found its way into clinical interventions and experimental neuroscience. I show that preliminary progress has been made by defining mindfulness and identifying associated psychological concepts. Most of this work has been done within the context of clinical interventions and has focused on outcome measures without systematically investigating the underlying mechanism. Experimental neuroscience, on the other hand, has hypothesized nonreactivity and metacognitive monitoring as unique characteristics that distinguish mindfulness meditation from other meditation practices. Nonreactivity is conceived of as a disposition or ability to respond less automatically to thoughts and feelings, while Metacognitive monitoring describes the ability to observe and reflect upon mental content or cognitive processes. In my work, I investigated the correlation between neural and behavioral measures of nonreactivity and developed a novel experiment to study metacognitive monitoring in highly experienced mindfulness meditators."
(Stephen Whitmarsh)

Stephen Whitmarsh (1979) is a Dutch/English neuroscientist working at the Donders Center for Cognitive Neuroimaging in Nijmegen, Netherlands. He received his Masters in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Amsterdam in 2004 on the topic of consciousness, quantum physics, and hypnosis. In 2013, he finished his dissertation titled Metacognition and Nonreactivity in Mindfulness at the Radboud University in Nijmegen where he studied brain activity and Buddhist texts to understand Vipassana meditation. In 2013, he moved to Stockholm, Sweden, where he took part in the organization of the national magnetoencephalography laboratory at Karolinska Institutet, where he continued his research interests in consciousness, creativity, and metacognition.

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