The brain in meditation returns its trajectories, revealing the transformation of its paths through color, thanks to technology. From research project to artistic performance, “The meditating mind. Art, Science, and an Enlightened Mind ”, is scheduled at MAXXI Rome from 20 to 24 September. Seven hours a day for 5 days on naturalist biologist expert in meditation Daniel Lumerawho conceived the project with Giacomo Rizzolattineuroscientist known for having discovered “mirror neurons”will enter a constant meditative state while his brain will be connected to a giant screen: those who will be present at the performances (open to the public at a cost of 3 euros per session) will be able to observe in real time what happens to the mind during a meditation cycle about thirty minutes or choose to participate in the experience immersive meditating together in the room and thus becoming part of the participatory work of art.
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The signal will then be rwelcomed by sensors positioned on Lumera’s head and on that of the meditating guest next to him and transmitted wirelessly at very low power to a computer, where it will be processed in real-time. The transformation of neural activities causes the mind of an individual in a meditative state to “draw” his experience through color, becoming a work of art: maps and areas that vary through a color spectrum ranging from blue will be visible to red, depending on the greater (towards red) or lower (towards blue) cerebral activation. Science therefore takes the form of live and participatory performance through digital processing: “We will see a ‘snapshot’ of the activity of the cerebral cortex, that is the most superficial part of the brain – explains Daniel Lumera – and brain waves will be projected on the big screen, capturing their modifications during the four specific phases of meditative activity: from focused attention to sustained concentration, up to deep contemplation and to the state of meditation proper. This to demonstrate that the meditating brain is not a “sleeping” brain and how the most subtle and profound emotional, mental and even conscience aspects of our existence trace invisible paths that translate not only into well-being, but also into longevity, health, creativity, lucidity, inspiration, intuition ”.
If on the one hand, therefore, digital can support the study of neural processesie in general, research, on the other hand, can convey this kind of “experiments” to a wide audience and, as in this case, potentially bring the visitors of a museum, as inclined to multidisciplinarity as the MAXXI, closer to science.
“We have always explored the connections with other disciplines – he observes Giovanna Melandri, President of the MAXXI Foundation – and always at the center of every project the visitors, who are an active part of every initiative. In this case the most advanced technologies can probe thinner dimensions; meditation, which is considered by numerous scientific studies and by the World Health Organization itself as one of the pillars for a healthy life, creates a state of consciousness in which the mind remains alone with the awareness of being ”.
Rizzolatti himself explains: “from the meeting with Daniel Lumera the idea was born of approaching the meditative process with a public scientific method, that is to make the neural activity visible not only to the meditating subject himself, but also to the spectator, with the ambitious idea of creating an awareness in the visitor of the brain dynamics underway during meditation ”.
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The digital in this case therefore supports paths of the mind otherwise invisible and at the same time allows the activation of social processes.
“We are facing one technological revolution”- they add Pietro Advanceini and Maddalena Fabbri Destro, researchers from the CNR Institute of Neuroscience in Parma. “Systems such as virtual, augmented, mixed reality allow us today to reproduce the perception and navigation of space in an increasingly realistic and ecological way. If previously reality was “distilled” in a laboratory setting, today we can bring measuring instruments into real contexts, such as a museum. In this case, our goal is to show the viewer how, albeit with their individual differences, brain activity is subject to similar fluctuations in meditating subjects. All social neuroscience, including mirror neurons, tell us every day how observing the behavior of another makes us share a little of his own experience ”.
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