Thinking about Not-Thinking

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Thinking about Not-Thinking
« on: September 04, 2008, 07:58:37 PM »
Thinking about Not-Thinking

original instructions for Zen meditation date back to the 12th century
saying, "Think of
neither good nor evil and judge not right or wrong. Stop the operation
of the mind, and consciousness; bring to an end all desires, all
concepts and judgments".  The latest fMRI brain scanning techniques
have recently been turned on practitioners of this technique to find out
what happens in the brain. The results have been published in a paper
titled, Thinking
about Not-Thinking: Neural Correlates of Conceptual Processing during
Zen Meditation (PDF format). Researchers found brain
regions that are active during this mental state but not during normal
goal-oriented behavior. These brain
regions appear to be involved in control of voluntary
attention and are also thought to be part of our "sense of
self". What the meditators appear to gain from learning to control
this region is, "the ability to control the automatic cascade of
semantic associations triggered by a stimulus and, by extension, to
voluntarily regulate the flow of spontaneous mentation." In
practical terms, the meditators were in more control of their brain,
able to complete conceptual tasks faster and more accurately than
non-mediators in the study. So does all this have any implications for
AI or robotics? If we give robots human-like minds that think randomly and
inaccurately, will they eventually adopt Zen meditation to overcome
those handicaps?


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