The Science of Consciousness Conference
June 6-9, 2017, Shanghai, China

Modeling the neuro-psycho benefits of Eco-human interaction: Integrating Eastern beliefs and Western Science.

by Pooja Sahni, Jyoti Kumar; Dayalbagh Educational Institute, Agra, India 

Scientifically we know, there is a close interdependence between the ecosystem and its inhabitants. On the other hand, eastern religions are based on an environmentally sensitive philosophy. Confucianism (China), Shintoism (Japan) is based on nature worship (Konohanasakuya-hime ). Buddhism and Jainism teach peaceful coexistence. Hinduism lays emphasis on environmental ethics. But in the past few decades perceived worth of nature and human contact with the natural world has diminished. There is both a physical (e.g. experiential) and psychological (e.g. perceptual, emotional) disconnect leading to many cognitive dysfunctions. On the other hand, being in the natural environment has a uniquely positive effect on our body and mind. It can yield conscious experiences that can potentially alter our process of thinking.

Studies show that experiences (i.e. patterns of neuronal activity) can modify the synaptic circuitry of the developing brain. Such changes in neural activity of the brain and in behavior can be measured using EEG and through cognitive experiments of psychology (Price and Barrel, Inner Experience and Neuroscience). EEG studies have provided evidence of enhanced structural plasticity, brain synchrony and neural oscillations. In the first phase of the research, we used psychological tests to study the correlation between nature connectedness, Consciousness Quotient (measuring seven aspects of life: physical, emotional, cognitive, social-relational, self, inner growth and spiritual) and pro-environment behavior.

Significant correlations between Consciousness Quotient and pro-Environmental behavior (r= 0.738, p<0.01) was demonstrated. The results were presented in TSC 2016. Further analysis deduced that pro-environment behavior among subjects correlated positively with the spiritual consciousness( r=0.761, p<0.01) inner growth ( r=0.736, p<0.01) and cognitive or mental consciousness ( r=0.641, p<0.01)- sub-factors of Consciousness Quotient. To understand the neural mechanisms involved, in the second phase, we are studying the effect of natural surroundings on the brain oscillations. Preliminary results show that on EEG measurements of participants immediately after a 60 min walk in a natural environment dominated areas (nature parks) elicit increased power at the alpha frequency band known for creative thinking and consciously practicing mindfulness and meditation than the participants subjected to a walk in urban settings for the same time. Systemic models for eco-human interaction, based on the General systems theory and empirical data from the studies have been proposed that could explain the neuro-psycho pathways that are functional while engaged in a natural environment.

Role of Conscious Experience and Mindfulness in Intuitive and Cognitive Decision Making of Stock Market Investors.

by Rupali Misra, Sumita Srivastava; D. K. Banwet; Abhishek Nigam; Department of Management, Dayalbagh Educational Institute, Agra, India

Conventional wisdom relies on analysis, cognition and judgment to be a rational approach. The cognitive style organizes mental thinking patterns and systemizes operational and tactical strategies in a complex sequential decision-making process (Messick 1978, Lofstrom 2005). It has been typified as slow, deliberative, and computational. When assessments cannot be performed analytically when evaluations require intense pattern recognition, or when time constraints estimation, like in a complex multi-objective dynamic decision environment, working associatively, intuitively and tacitly is the more advantageous thinking style (Wilson 2002; Wittemen et al. 2009). Science relies upon a specific thinking process (logic) while faith relies upon specific thoughts (dogma).

This paper is based on a dual processing style where decision-maker combines both the above-mentioned styles – analytical and intuitive – in a synchronized iterative fashion. A stock market investor works under a dynamic business environment with pro-active and reactive actions, ill-defined goals and tasks, uncertain and ambiguous data, time constraints (Klein and Klinger (1991), apart from the interplay of his own emotions (Matzler et al., 2007) and heuristic driven biases. He operates under the stricter constrictions of bounded rationality and therefore relies on his intuitive ability along with the cognitive capability to take high-quality decisions relatively quickly. In this study, we conceptualize antecedents of intuitive and cognitive decision making as spiritual-consciousness, self-consciousness and mindfulness.

Conscious experience encompasses both awareness and attention such that attention continually pulls figures out of the ground of awareness, holding them focally for varying lengths of time (Brown and Ryan 2003). Greater awareness supports the holistic processing of information and an intuitive or instinctive behavior to make quick or accurate decisions, often with imperfect data sets (Khumalo 2009). Attentional focus improves the ability to interrupt autonomous responses and suppress interfering information thereby improving cognition (Moore and Malinowski, 2009). Mindfulness – Mindfulness meditation develops attentional performance and conscious perception by screening out irrelevant information through sustained and selective attention. Meditation enhances executive functions (Zeidan et al. 2010) and working memory capacity improving the efficacy of decision making. Mindfulness induces a set of integrated physiological changes termed as relaxation response, stress reduction, and an increase in attention (Lazar et al. 2000). This improves attentional focus or the ability to interrupt automated response (Greenberg et al. 2012).

A composite questionnaire with Consciousness Quotient Inventory CQ-i v.2013 (Brazdau 2013) for assessing spiritual-consciousness and self-consciousness, Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory for mindfulness, PID (Betsch 2004, 2008) for preference for intuition or deliberation and a self-developed scale for decision efficacy was administered on a sample of 222 stock market investors. Preliminary findings imply a significant positive correlation between intuitive ability, the cognitive capability of investor and his Spiritual consciousness (0.406, 0.253), Self-consciousness (0.554, 0.337) and mindfulness (0.205, 0.370) respectively. Statistical investigation reveals significant interesting insight on the role of mindfulness and consciousness in shaping intuitive ability and cognitive capability of stock market investors, in particular, and decision-makers, in general. The present research attempts to provide a unified scientific description behind the theory of decision making by integrating cognitive science and financial decision making under the broad category of behavioral finance.