University of North Carolina Asheville (UNC Asheville) hosts a free public lecture by Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D., world-renowned neuroscientist and co-author of Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 13, at UNC Asheville’s Lipinsky Auditorium. A free public master class takes place at 9 a.m. on Friday, February 14, in the Highsmith Student Union Blue Ridge Room.
“Meditation was a fringe topic in the neuroscience field before Dr. Davidson’s work because very little evidence existed regarding where and how the brain changes with these practices,” says UNC Asheville associate professor of psychology Patrick Foo. “Through pioneering efforts by him and others, we now have objective evidence of brain activity and connectivity changes in master meditators.”
Davidson’s lecture, Well-Being is a Skill, considers scientific evidence that we can change our brains by cultivating habits of mind that improve well-being. His analysis stems from his decades of research focused on the neural bases of emotion and emotional style, and methods to promote human flourishing, including meditation and related contemplative practices. Davidson’s research has encompassed people young and old in varying states of mental health, and most famously, involved measuring the brain emissions of Buddhist monks as they meditated. He has gained worldwide recognition in and beyond the scientific community.
“These findings lay a strong empirical foundation for the science of meditation,” says Foo. “It is no wonder that Time magazine named Dr. Davidson one of the 100 most influential people in the world.”
To set the stage for Davidson’s campus visit, Foo will give a free talk, The Neuroscience of Meditative Practices, at noon on Tuesday, February 4, also in the Blue Ridge Room. The talk offers a general introduction to the anatomy and workings of the brain, as well as an overview of how science has investigated topics like attention, intention and mindfulness.
“I would like my audience to learn the differences between prefrontal cortex and medulla, and glimpse how these brain areas might correspond to the ‘panda’ and ‘monkey’ mind in the world of meditation,” says Foo.
UNC Asheville’s Lipinsky Auditorium is located at 300 Library Lane, in Asheville. No tickets are needed; seating is general admission, first-come, first-served. Doors will open at 6 p.m. If all seats are filled, the lecture will be live-streamed at the Highsmith Student Union. For more information, contact Cori Anderson, UNC Asheville associate director of cultural events and engaged citizenship, email@example.com or 828.258.7727.