Case Study of Ecstatic Meditation: fMRI and EEG Evidence of Self-Stimulating a Reward System
By Michael R. Hagerty, Julian Isaacs, Leigh Brasington and others12 pages
the subject indicated extremely high magnitude of reward, [yet] the objective activation of the reward system was not extreme.
When most other cortical activity is reduced, a much smaller reward signal can be detected and will be perceived as more intense than when cortical “noise” from other sources is high, as in normal awareness. Indeed, during normal awareness it takes drug-induced hyperstimulation of the dopamine pathways to generate such extreme subjective reports. If this signal-to-noise view is correct, then jhana’s reduced sense awareness is not incidental to achieving extreme pleasure but is a contributing condition.