Dr. Tania Singer is a professor at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, and is a pioneer in the exploration of Neuroscience of compassion.
In the last decades, brain research in the contemplative and neuro-sciences has suggested that training of mental capacities such as attention, mindfulness, empathy and compassion is effective and leads to changes in brain functions associated with increases in positive affect, pro-social behaviour, and better health.
Based on two different studies, a large-scale, one year mental training study, the ReSource project, and a more recent 10-weeks online study, the CovSocial project, I will introduce the audience into the different neuronal pathways underlying our capacities to empathize, to feel compassion for someone or to take the cognitive perspective of another and how we can differentially cultivate those skills with different types of mindfulness- and compassion-based practices; the latter will include ways of how we can avoid falling into empathic distress in the face of adversity and build up resilience.
I will further provide evidence for differential training effects of mindfulness-based as compared to socio-affective and socio-cognitive practices on loneliness and stress reduction as well as on social skill learning and cooperation. One other focus will be the introduction of novel forms of intersubjective mental training formats performed with another partner, the so-called Dyads, aiming at boosting social closeness, trust and a sense of shared humanity.
By introducing another more recent project, the CovSocial project, I will show how we use these short Dyadic practices in a 10-weeks mental online training in the context of the Covid19-pandemy to reduce increasing levels of loneliness, depression and stress elicited by multiple consecutive lock-downs and how we translate these findings into society at large.