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date: 16 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The term “hypo-egoic” can refer to a variety of cognitive states, ranging from internal experiences of meditation, hypnosis, or spirituality, to overt acts of forgiveness or altruism. This chapter reviews the nascent literature on the neuroscience supporting such states, aiming to provide a more unified neural account. For parsimony, research findings are framed in terms of implicated brain networks, with particular attention as to whether networks are modulated to directly inhibit of egoic processes, or to generate competing, experientially salient, hypo-egoic states. The chapter concludes that hypo-egoic processing is not purely inhibitory in its neural architecture but often incorporates generative neural representations, enhancing sensory awareness in meditation and hypnosis, the theory of another’s mind in love and forgiveness, and vicarious enjoyment in altruistic acts. These generative processes may anchor attention and attenuate prepotent tendencies toward egoic thinking, allowing for the transcendence of self-concern in favor of some greater good.

Keywords: hypo-egoic, neuroimaging, brain network, salience, meditation, mindfulness, hypnosis, altruism, forgiveness, mystical experience

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