Episode 73 :: Dr. Cathy Kerr :: Modulating Somatosensory Attention

| July 15, 2011 | 0 Comments

Dr. Cathy Kerr

Dr. Cathy Kerr joins us to speak about her recent study on the effects of mindfulness meditation training on anticipatory alpha modulation in primary somatosensory cortex.

Hi, everyone. Today, with this episode as with many others, I learned something. Only this time, it was very unexpected, and helped me assess my own attitudes about the placebo effect.

In our culture, we can have this aversion to placebo effect, dismissing it because it does not show actual repair of damaged tissue. And it doesn’t. But, that doesn’t mean it has no usefulness. In particular, with how we interact with our experiences of pain. As our guest today describes, we have some indication that this is not merely a perception, but that there are brain mechanisms which lessen the focus of our attention spotlight — resulting in what we have called “placebo”. And with this possibility, we open the door to intentionally practicing this refocus. We also speak about the impact of this naturalistic approach to meditation, as becoming more available to a broad range of people.

Dr. Cathy Kerr got her B.A. from Amherst College, and her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins. She has been a lecturer at Harvard University, and recently has become an Assistant Professor at the Department of Family Medicine at Brown University School of Medicine.

So, sit back, relax, and have a nice latte with a shot of macadamia nut.

:: Discuss this episode ::



Dr. Cathy Kerr: “What Can Humanists Learn from Scientific Research on Meditation” from Contemplative Studies on Vimeo.

Web Links

Music for This Episode

Shakuhachi Meditations

Shakuhachi Meditations

The music heard in the middle of the podcast is from Rodrigo Rodriguez’s upcoming CD, Shakuhachi Meditations. The tracks used in this episode are:

  • Lady of the Snow

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Category: The Secular Buddhist Podcast

Ted Meissner

About the Author ()

Ted Meissner is the host of the podcast Present Moment: Mindfulness Practice and Science. He has been a meditator since the early 90’s, has been interviewed for Books and Ideas, Mindful Lives, and The Whole Leader podcasts, spoken about mindfulness with various groups including Harvard Humanist Hub, and has written for Elephant Journal and The International Journal of Whole Person Care. He is the Executive Director of the Secular Buddhist Association, host of the SBA’s official podcast The Secular Buddhist, and is on the Advisory Board for the Spiritual Naturalist Society. Ted’s background is in the Zen and Theravada traditions, he is a regular speaker on interfaith panel discussions, and is interested in examining the evolution of contemplative practice in contemporary culture. Ted teaches Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care & Society, where he is the Manager of Online Programming and Community Development.

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