05 Dec Meditation and altered states of conciousness
Meditation commonly gives rise to the feeling that the self and the surrounding world are no longer separate, as if the boundary between them has dissolved. We propose this may occur due to alterations in representations of peripersonal space (PPS), the reachable space surrounding the body which is integral to a sense of where one’s bodily “self” is located in space. Thirty-one participants completed an auditory oddball paradigm before and after a guided meditation, during which we measured their P3 evoked potential, a marker of attentional salience. Pre-meditation, participants exhibited an enhanced attentional response to stimuli presented within PPS, relative to beyond PPS. Post-meditation, this PPS attentional enhancement was negated, with no distinction between responses to stimuli within versus beyond PPS. The results suggest that meditation leads to a constriction of PPS boundaries, even in novice meditators, elucidating one potential cause of the perceptual changes associated with meditation.