Posted August 15, 2012 by Natalie Geld in attention

Zoran Josipovic, PhD: The Functioning of Anti-Correlated Neural Networks

Dr. Zoran Josipovic is the Director/Principal Investigator of the Contemplative Science Lab, a Research Associate and an Adjunct Professor at Psychology Department and Center for Neural Science, New York University. His main interests are the nature of consciousness and its relation to the brain, global versus local theories of consciousness, and the functioning of anti-correlated neural networks. Zoran is a long-term practitioner of meditation in the nondual traditions of Dzogchen, Mahamudra and Advaita Vedanta. In addition to being the Director of Contemplative Science Lab, I am also a Research Associate in David Heeger’s Laboratory for Computational Neuroimaging at Center for Neural Science, and a founding member of Margam—metro-area research group on awareness and meditation.  In my previous life I worked as a clinical psychotherapist, a bodyworker and have taught meditation seminars at Esalen Institute for many years.

Zoran is also the Founding Director of the Nonduality Institute.

“I am interested in states of consciousness cultivated through contemplative practice, what these states can tell us about the nature of consciousness and its relation to authentic subjectivity, and what relevance this may have for understanding the global and local organization in the brain. I use fMRI and a variety of visual and other stimuli to explore functional connectivity changes in the brain’s networks.”

BBC Interview Excerpt: Brains of Buddhist monks scanned in meditation study

Shifting attention

“Dr Josipovic’s research is part of a larger effort better to understand what scientists have dubbed the default network in the brain. He says the brain appears to be organized into two networks: the extrinsic network and the intrinsic, or default, network.

"Zoran Josipovic prepares a Buddhist monk for a brain scan in an fMRI" machine Dr Josipovic has scanned the brains of more than 20 experienced meditators during the study. The extrinsic portion of the brain becomes active when individuals are focused on external tasks, like playing sports or pouring a cup of coffee. The default network churns when people reflect on matters that involve themselves and their emotions.

But the networks are rarely fully active at the same time. And like a seesaw, when one rises, the other one dips down. This neural set-up allows individuals to concentrate more easily on one task at any given time, without being consumed by distractions like daydreaming.

“What we’re trying to do is basically track the changes in the networks in the brain as the person shifts between these modes of attention,” Dr Josipovic says. Dr Josipovic has found that some Buddhist monks and other experienced meditators have the ability to keep both neural networks active at the same time during meditation – that is to say, they have found a way to lift both sides of the seesaw simultaneously.

And Dr. Josipovic believes this ability to churn both the internal and external networks in the brain concurrently may lead the monks to experience a harmonious feeling of oneness with their environment.”

Study scans Buddhist monk brains

The BBC’s Matt Danzico interviews US neuroscientist Zoran Josipovic who is researching the brain science behind meditation. Buddhist monk Tibetan Lama Phakyab Rinpoche is a participant in this fMRI study out of New York University. Zoran Josipovic, PhD is a long-term meditation practitioner in the Dzog-chen, Zen and Advaita Vedanta traditions. He is a Research Associate and Adjunct Professor in the Psychology Department and Center for Neural Science, New York University, studying states of consciousness cultivated through contemplative practice. ( 23 April 2011 )



Mind Science Foundation 2010 Tom Slick Awards for research on consciousness



My current research has been pick up by NPR:
The original report appeared here:

My research has been featured in a documentary film The Consciousness Chronicles.

At Rubin Museum Brain Brainwave 2010 series:

Online at Scienceline:

And in ‘Spirituality and Health’ magazine:

Many years ago I co-wrote a somewhat funny comic-book introduction to Zen:
Blackstone, J. & Josipovic, Z. (1986). Zen for Beginners, London, UK: George Allen & Unwin.


2006: Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience and Asian Philosophy, Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, OH
1990: M.A. in Transpersonal Psychology, John F. Kennedy University, Orinda, CA
1986: B.A. in Asian Religions and Psychology, SUNY Empire State College, Saratoga Springs, NY


1. Josipovic, Z. What is Nonduality? (in preparation).
2. Josipovic Z, Dinstein I, Weber J and Heeger DJ (2012). Influence of meditation on anti-correlated networks in the brain. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 5:183.
3. Josipovic, Z. (2010). Duality and Nonduality in Meditation Research. Consciousness and Cognition, doi:10.1016/j.concog.2010.03.016
4. Kozhevnikov, M., Luchakova, O., Josipovic, Z., Motes, MA, (2009). The Enhancement of Visual-Spatial Processing Efficiency through Buddhist Deity
    Meditation. Psychological Science, 20: 5, 645-653.
5. Malach, R. & Josipovic, Z., (2006). An Interview with Rafi Malach: Perception without a Perceiver, Journal of Consciousness Studies, 13: 9, 57-66.

Natalie Geld

Co-founder + Creative Director of mbSci, Natalie Geld is a writer, communications specialist, producer, and educator, and has spent much of her life fostering educational opportunities for activating vivid human potential. She researches the integral nature of energy and the relationship of science, consciousness, and our health.