We are presenting a version of this at the RANZCP Psychotherapy Conference in Sydney (Coogee Crown Plaza) 24th of Aug.
The research looks at “internal conflict”…how the “Internal I” interacts with the “Internal Other”…what emerges is that the mindfulness and empathy circuits light up. See the pretty picture.
Jung’s Word Association Test was performed under fMRI conditions by 12 normal subjects. Pooled complexed responses were contrasted against pooled neutral ones. The fMRI activation pattern of this generic “complexed response” was very strong (corrected Z scores ranging from 4.90 to 5.69). The activation pattern in each hemisphere includes mirror neurone areas that track “otherness” (perspectival empathy), anterior insula (both self-awareness and emotional empathy), and cingulate gyrus (self-awareness and conflict-monitoring). These are the sites described by Seigel and colleagues as the “resonance circuitry” in the brain which is central to mindfulness (awareness of self) and empathy (sense of the other), negotiations between self awareness and the “internal other”.
But there is also an interhemispheric dialogue. Within 3 seconds, the left hemisphere over-rides the right (at least in our normal subjects).
Mindfulness and empathy are central to good psychotherapy, and complexes can be windows of opportunity if left-brain hegemony is resisted.
This study sets foundations for further research: (i) QEEG studies (with their finer temporal resolution) of complexed responses in normal subjects (ii) QEEG and fMRI studies of complexed responses in other conditions, like schizophrenia, PTSD, disorders of self organisation.