Abstract Details

The Sense Of Self In Meditation And Depersonalization  Erola Pons , Axel Lindner (Dpt. Psychiatry And Psychotherapy, University of Tuebingen, Tübingen, Germany)   C22

Depersonalization is characterized by experiences of unreality with respect to the self, including detachment from it (from one?s body, thoughts, or actions) as well as by the sensation of being an observer of oneself. It is highly associated with depression and anxiety. On the other hand, a key concept in Buddhism is that the self is an illusion, and some meditators report similar experiences to depersonalization. However, usually with a positive valence, experiencing these as wisdom which brings a cessation of suffering or dissatisfaction. Despite the striking similarities (along with important differences) between these two populations, no empirical research has been done to date to try to disentangle the mechanisms of these experiences. The objective of this project is to fill this gap by performing several behavioral experiments during the next months. We will analyze body ownership with the Rubber Hand Illusion paradigm and expect to find a stronger illusion in people with depersonalization and a weaker illusion in meditators compared to controls. In addition, we will run several experiments on the sense of agency. We hypothesize that both experimental groups give less weight to internal models (in this case, efference copy) and more to sensory input, with some crucial differences between the groups. Further behavioral and neuroimaging experiments will follow.