Saron Lab (Saron)

Researchers in the SARON LAB, under the direction of neuroscientist Clifford Saron, use electrophysiological and behavioral methods to study sensory and cognitive processes in humans.

Full Lab Website

 

Research Topics

Meditation-Related Studies

Meditation may offer benefits to mental and physical health. The Shamatha Project, the most comprehensive study of meditation to date, investigates the psychological and physiological processes underlying such benefits. In this randomized, controlled study, researchers examined how intensive meditation training affects how people think and feel. They employed cognitive and perceptual tasks, emotional provocation, questionnaires, and physiological and biochemical monitoring to assess people’s skills and behavior before, during and after a three-month intensive meditation retreat.

Initial results show that intensive contemplative training sharpens and sustains attention, enhances well-being, and leads to less judgmental, more empathic emotional responding to the suffering of others. Additionally, the training was linked with pro-social emotional behavior and important physiological markers of health.

Research suggests that many health-relevant biomarkers are related to psychological and emotional well-being. Because intensive meditation practice is believed to induce psychological changes, investigation of relationships between biological and psychological factors may yield clues about the ways in which intensive meditation practice induces measurable changes. In addition to the Shamatha Project, the Saron Lab also is currently conducting studies at Spirit Rock Meditation Center.

 

Autism Research

In collaboration with Susan Rivera at the CMB and colleagues at the MIND Institute, researchers in the Saron Lab are studying whether differences in sensory processing and integration contribute to social communication obstacles for children who have autism spectrum disorders. Individuals diagnosed with autism may also exhibit deficits in multisensory integration (MSI), the synthesis of multiple sensory inputs through which perceptions are formed. By establishing the brain basis of sensory problems in ASD, they hope to lay the foundation for future treatment studies and improve the quality of life for affected individuals.