This report — Brain oscillations reveal that our senses do not experience the world continuously — supports the core activity of FIML practice, which entails noticing the first instant(s) of the arising of an emotional sensation (that is typically tied to a much more involved “mistaken interpretation” within the brain). By interfering with the first instant(s) of arising, FIML practice forestalls the habitual wave of neurotic interpretation that normally follows. Instead, new information — better data obtained from the FIML partner — is used to replace the cue that led to the initial sensation, thus redefining that cue.
Professor Gregor Thut of the University of Glasgow, where the study was conducted, says of its results: “For perception, this means that despite experiencing the world as a continuum, we do not sample our world continuously but in discrete snapshots determined by the cycles of brain rhythms.”
I would further hypothesize that the same holds true for our “perceptions” of inner emotional states. In this context, recall the five skandhas of Buddhism — form, sensation, perception, activity, consciousness. A form can arise in the mind or outside of the mind. This form gives rise to a sensation (which is the first initiation of a FIML query), which gives rise to perception, followed by activity (mental or physical), and lastly consciousness.
In Buddhist teachings, the five skandhas occur one after the other, very rapidly. They are not a continuous stream but rather a series of “discrete snapshots,” to use Thut’s words. In FIML practice, partners want to interfere with what has become a habitual “firing” of their five skandhas based on (neurotic) learned cues. FIML practice strives to prevent full-blown neurotic consciousness (the fifth skandha) from taking control of the mind by replacing the source of that consciousness with a more realistic interpretation of the neurotic cue. The cue corresponds to form in the five skandhas explanation while our emotional reaction to it begins with the second skandha, sensation. The more realistic interpretation of that cue is based on the true words of the partner.
The five skandhas can also help us understand how FIML is different from more or less normal psychological analysis. In normal, or traditional, analysis we use theories and schema to understand ourselves. In FIML we use a specific technique to interfere with habitual neurotic “firings” of the five skandhas. FIML partners are encouraged to theorize and speak about themselves in any way they like, and it is very helpful to do this, but the core FIML activity cannot be replaced by just theorizing or telling stories.
Here is a link to the study itself: Sounds Reset Rhythms of Visual Cortex and Corresponding Human Visual Perception.