SURF

Dayna Stimson

Buddhist Contemplative Practice: An Integrative Approach for Investigating Consciousness

My research focuses on the growing recognition that the scientific study of consciousness is lacking in one crucial element: a rigorous methodology for examining the first-person, qualitative aspects of conscious states. While neuroimaging and computational cognition have greatly enhanced our knowledge of brain function, we are no closer to bridging the explanatory gap. That is, how does neuronal activity create the deeply complex, subjective, and personal world that each of us experiences? Though conventional scientific study does not currently recognize introspection as a valid method of inquiry, I will examine the ways in which Buddhist contemplative practices may be used to study consciousness directly, as they have been used for more than 2,000 years. I seek to define and develop a precise methodology of meditation techniques to be used in conjunction with neuroscientific studies to heighten our understanding of consciousness. I will spend my time perusing the literature on contemplative studies, as well as developing my own meditative practice.

Message to Sponsor

As a SURF fellow this summer, I will have the opportunity to study a subject that many professors are not able to pursue until acquiring tenure. I cannot imagine a better way to spend my summer I have been given the freedom to explore and combine my intellectual and extracurricular interests into a meaningful project that I hope can help to alter the discourse of scientific inquiry. I am so grateful for the guidance and support that my advisor and the SURF mentors have provided and will continue to provide, and I look forward to working within this community of intellectually engaged undergraduates.
  • Major: Cognitive Science Major, Spanish Minor
  • Sponsor: JSB SURF L&S Fellow
  • Mentor: David Presti, Molecular and Cell Biology