Video Lecture: Neuroscience of Buddhist

In this lecture, Daniel J. Siegel, author of The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are and more recently, The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being, gives a lecture about the brain and how the brain responds to mindfulness meditation.

The talk is given at the Neurosciences and Spirituality Conference at the Claremont School of Theology in California. Siegel currently resides at the UCLA School of Medicine as the associate clinical professor of psychiatry and is the Co-Director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center.

In addition to talking about the changes the brain goes through from engaging in intentional contemplative practices, Siegel also talks about the parts and areas of the brain and their functions using a unique “hand model.”  The talk about the brain specifically targets the pre-frontal middle cortex, which is responsible for 9 functions* of the mind/body.

1. Regulation of body.
2. Attuned communication.  Attachment, mutual attunement, merging.
3. Balance of emotions:  enough that life has meaning, but not too much that life becomes chaotic.
4. The capacity to extinguish fear.
5. The ability to pause before you act (“response flexibility”)
6. Autonoetic consciousness (“self-knowing awareness”).  Connects representation of past, present and future.
7. Empathy — be able to represent another’s internal world.
8. Capacity for morality — compassion, acting on highest principles and social good
9. Intuition — representation of representation of body, hence having access to wisdom of the body

*Notes from

Aside from a boring start, it’s a great lecture where you can learn about the physical structure of your brain and what external acts change the brain for better or worse. The doctor makes the point that the benefit of any contemplative practice is the intentional state of mind one creates in that state, becomes a mental trait of the person practicing.