In our recent study of a Sufi practicing a self-piercing demonstration, we recorded EEG and analyzed it using sLORETA Z-Scores. The following images, and link to a video, show the interesting findings illustrating how his brain has implemented the ability to avoid the experience of pain despite being pierced with lances.
The following image of gamma activation shows "pockets" of de-activation, or "holes" in brain function. It appears that there are specific de-activation in the occipital, sensory, and ventromedial frontal areas:
The following image shows the areas of hypoactivity in a Sufi practicing a self-piercing as part of a self-regulation discipline. This shows areas that have significantly reduced the activity in cortex. This pattern of de-activation appears to define a functional set of cortical areas that may normally communicating using the gamma "binding" rhythm. The areas may define a hub that serves attentional, perceptual, or salience functions. This image provides evidence that the individual is capable of selectively inhibiting high-level cortical functions normally associated with conscious awareness. This is a dorsal view, looking down from Cz.
This view from above P3 shows the network in a different view:
When the areas of maximum gamma activity are imaged, it is found that the gamma energy has been focused on the mesial temporal lobes. This is consistent with the idea that the individual is entering a profound state of meditation and internalized focus:
When areas of alpha hyperactivity are imaged, they define a set of regions that spans from the sensory cortex down through the temporal lobes. It is likely that this shows a specific relaxation, hence disengagement, of circuits that normally communicate with relation to the perception of body sensory information:
A video showing these images live is available at:
A video showing the actual piercing is available at: