Peter Grossenbacher, PhD

Core Professor
BA Psychology
PhD in Experimental Psychology, University of Oregon, MS in Experimental Psychology, University of Oregon, BA Cognitive Science and Mathematics, University of California, Berkeley
BA Psychology
Abnormal Psychology / Buddhist Psychology I: Mindfulness Meditation / Cognitive Neuroscience / Cognitive Psychology / Compassion Training for Counselors / Contemplative Community / Contemplative Learning Seminar / Extending Mindfulness: Cultivating Resilient Presence / First Year Seminar / Introduction to Psychology / Masters Thesis I & II / Neuroscience of Meditation / Perception / Personality Theories / Psychology of Meditation: Foundations of Mindfulness / Research Practica (on Compassion, Connection, Contemplative Metacognition, Meditation, Synesthesia) / Research Project I / Statistics and Research Methods / The Mindful Teacher / The Science of Contemplative Teaching and Learning

Peter G. Grossenbacher, PhD, teaches primarily in Naropa’s psychology and counseling programs, as well as in undergraduate core classes. A Mind & Life Fellow, he offers integrative scientific perspectives on meditation and contemplative education. Peter started meditating in 1980, and teaches meditation at Naropa, in NeuroDharma retreats with Rick Hanson, and other settings.
After graduating with honors from U.C. Berkeley in cognitive science and mathematics, he worked at Stanford Medical School in brain imaging research. He trained in cognitive neuroscience and earned his doctorate in experimental psychology at the University of Oregon. His book, Finding Consciousness in the Brain, offers insights into the brain’s involvement in conscious experience.

After years conducting original research on attention and perception at the University of Cambridge and the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Grossenbacher joined the Naropa faculty in 2000. His research and teaching has focused on the science of contemplative teaching and learning, and he also trains faculty in contemplative pedagogy across a variety of settings. Since founding the Consciousness Laboratory in 2001, he directs programs of research on meditative development, the teaching of meditation, and experiences of connection and disconnection. His work has been covered by the New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine, Discover Magazine, as well as numerous radio interviews and newspaper articles.

With decades of experience as a professor, research scientist, and higher education leader, Dr. Grossenbacher draws upon learning science and mindfulness-based pedagogy to support faculty in offering transformative learning experiences to their students. Peter’s administrative experience includes: co-leading Naropa’s Academic Affairs Division on an Interim Academic Affairs Team, serving on Naropa’s Board of Trustees as the Faculty Trustee, chairing the Faculty Senate, as well as multiple stints as Department Chair of Naropa’s largest undergraduate and graduate departments.


Peter directs a program of research on meditation and contemplative spirituality, focusing on the teaching of contemplative-practice, transformation of personal worldview, and engagement with awareness, including these current projects: Illuminate Meditation Instruction: Examine the antecedents, components, and consequences of skilled meditation instruction through structured content analysis of interview datasets; Investigate Shifts in Personal Worldview: Develop and apply new quantitative measures of an individual’s values, attitudes, and beliefs about the self and the world to gauge effects of contemplative-practice on personal worldview; Develop New Theoretical Framework: Provide a parsimonious account of psychological processes intrinsic to mindfulness and meditation that foregrounds attention, intention, and awareness; and Assess Quality of Meditation Experience: Develop and implement new quantitative measures of core meditative processes identified in this new theoretical framework. Explore Experiences of Connection and Disconnection: Use qualitative and transpersonal methods for delving into people’s experience and understanding of human connectivity.

  • Grossenbacher, P. G., & Quaglia, J. T. (2017). Contemplative Cognition: A More Integrative Framework for Advancing Mindfulness and Meditation Research. Mindfulness, 1-14.
  • Zhuang, X., Fatter, D.M., & Grossenbacher, P.G. (2016) Exploring the lived experience of meditation instructors. In F. J. Kaklauskas, C. J. Clements, D. Hocoy, & L. Hoffman (Eds.), Shadows and light: theory, research, and practice in transpersonal psychology (Vol. 1: principles & practices, pp. 173-194). Colorado Springs, CO: University Professors Press.
  • Franklin, M. A., & Grossenbacher, P. G. (2016). Empathy Examined From Perspectives of Neuroscience and Artistic Imagination. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 58(3), 251-255.
  • Grossenbacher, P.G., & Rossi, A.J. (2014). A Contemplative Approach to Teaching Observation Skills. The Journal of Contemplative Inquiry, 1(1), 23-34.
  • Grossenbacher, P.G., Graves, K.A. & Davis, D.M. (2012). Cultivating Concord Through Inter-Viewing: A New Method for Inter-Lineage Contact. In K. Dhammasami, P. de Silva, S. Shaw, D. Peoples, & J. Cresswell (Eds.), Unifying Buddhist Philosophical Views: United Nations Day of Vesak Conference Volume (pp. 234-246). Bangkok, Thailand: Thai Raiwan Printing.
  • Grossenbacher, P.G., & Quaglia, J.T. (2010). Psychological Benefits of Buddhist Mind Training. In K. Dhammasami, P. Dhammahaso, P. Vutthikaro, & D. Peoples (Eds.), Global Recovery: The Buddhist Perspective: United Nations Day of Vesak Conference Volume (pp. 198-214). Bangkok, Thailand: Thai Raiwan Printing.
  • Grossenbacher, P.G., & Crespi, T.J. (2009). Meditation, Contemplative Spirituality, and Brain Science. In Body and Mind: Science and Spirituality Perspectives (pp. 59-86), S. Hongladarom (Ed.).
  • Burggraf, S.A., & Grossenbacher, P.G. (2007). Contemplative modes of inquiry in liberal arts. Liberal Arts Online, 7(4), 1-9.
  • Grossenbacher, P.G. (2006). Buddhism and the brain: An empirical approach to spirituality. Paper prepared for “”Continuity and Change: Perspectives on Science and Religion,”” Conference at the Metanexus Institute.
  • Grossenbacher, P.G., & Parkin, S.S. (2006). Joining hearts and minds: A contemplative approach to holistic education in psychology. Journal of College and Character, 7(6).
  • Moulton, E.A., Roy, E.A., Gullapalli, R.P., Grossenbacher, P.G., & Greenspan, J.D. (2002). Somesthetic sensations elicited by music: A unique report of auditory-somesthetic synesthesia (Program No. 560.3). Washington, DC: Society for Neuroscience Abstracts.
  • Grossenbacher, P.G., & Velayo, C.M. (2002). Varieties of synesthetic perception: Data and theory. Brain and Cognition, 48, 236-237.
  • Grossenbacher, P.G. (2001). More than a curiosity: Synesthesia and the science of mind. In P. L. Duffy (Ed.), Blue cats and chartreuse kittens: How synesthetes color their world (pp. xi-xiv). New York, NY: W.H. Freeman.
  • Grossenbacher, P.G. (Ed.). (2001). Finding consciousness in the brain: A neurocognitive approach. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Grossenbacher, P.G. (2001). A phenomenological introduction to the cognitive neuroscience of consciousness. In P.G. Grossenbacher (Ed.), Finding consciousness in the brain: A neurocognitive approach (pp.1-19). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Grossenbacher, P.G. (2001). Multisensory coordination and the evolution of consciousness. In P.G. Grossenbacher (Ed.), Finding consciousness in the brain: A neurocognitive approach (pp. 271-308). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Grossenbacher, P.G., & Lovelace, C.T. (2001). Mechanisms of synesthesia: Cognitive and physiological constraints. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 5(1), 36-41.
  • Sprenglemeyer, R., Young, A.W., Schroeder, U., Grossenbacher, P.G., Federlein, J., Büttner, T., & Przuntek, H. (1999). Knowing no fear. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 266, 2451-2456.
  • Grossenbacher, P.G., & Lovelace, C.T. (1999). Synesthesia then and now: Contrasting scientific views from a century ago and today. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts, 258.
  • Lovelace, C.T., Grossenbacher, P.G., & Crane, C.A. (1999). Functional connectivity underlying synesthetic perception: Theories and data. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 85.
  • Grossenbacher, P.G., & Driver, J.S. (1999). Evidence for body-part-centered spatial frameworks in human attention. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 67.
  • Grossenbacher, P.G. (1999). Correspondence between tactile temporal frequency and visual spatial frequency. In P. R. Killeen & W. R. Uttal (Eds.), Fechner Day 99: The End of 20th Century Psychophysics. Proceedings of the 15th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Psychophysics (pp. 55-61). Tempe, AZ: The International Society for Psychophysics.
  • Grossenbacher, P.G., Weeks, R.A., & Hallett, M. (1997). Attention for action focused on auditory, tactile, or visual stimuli results in crossmodal suppression of blood flow. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts, 301.
  • Grossenbacher, P.G. (1997). Perception and sensory information in synaesthetic experience. In S. Baron-Cohen & J. Harrison (Eds.), Synaesthesia: Classic and contemporary readings (pp. 148-172). Oxford, England: Blackwell.
  • Driver, J. S., & Grossenbacher, P.G. (1996). Multimodal spatial constraints on tactile selective attention. In T. Inui & J.L. McClelland (Eds.), Attention and performance XVI: Information integration in perception and communication (pp. 209-235). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Grossenbacher, P.G. (1996). Consciousness and evolution in neocortex. In P.A. Mellars & K.R. Gibson (Eds.), Modeling the early human mind (pp. 119-130). Cambridge, England: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.
  • Grossenbacher, P.G., Potts, G.F., Liotti, M., & McQuaid, J.R. (1994). Identification of emotion through postural cues. In N. H. Frijda (Ed.), Proceedings of the VIIIth conference of the International Society for Research on emotions (pp. 260-263). Storrs, CT: ISRE Publications.
  • Grossenbacher, P.G. (1994). Enigmas of the body, sense modalities and space perception. [Review of The Roots of Thinking]. Psycoloquy, 5(55), 1-2.
  • Posner, M.I., Grossenbacher, P.G., & Compton, P.E. (1994). Visual attention. In M. J. Farah and G. Ratcliff (Eds.), The neuropsychology of high-level vision: Collected tutorial essays (pp. 217-239). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Grossenbacher, P.G. (1993). Interaction between touch and vision: Correspondence between frequency dimensions (Doctoral Dissertation, University of Oregon, 1992). Dissertation Abstracts International, 54(1-B), 526.
  • Posner, M.I., Compton, P.E., Grossenbacher, P.G., & Tucker, D.M. (1992). Convergence of cognitive, blood flow, and ERP studies in processing visual words. International Journal of Psychology, 27, 406-407.
  • Compton, P.E., Grossenbacher, P.G., Posner, M.I., & Tucker, D.M. (1991). A cognitive-anatomical approach to attention in lexical access. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 3(4), 304-312.

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Naropa Campuses Closed on Friday, March 15, 2024

Due to adverse weather conditions, all Naropa campuses will be closed Friday, March 15, 2024.  All classes that require a physical presence on campus will be canceled. All online and low-residency programs are to meet as scheduled.

Based on the current weather forecast, the Healing with the Ancestors Talk & Breeze of Simplicity program scheduled for Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday will be held as planned.

Staff that do not work remotely or are scheduled to work on campus, can work remotely. Staff that routinely work remotely are expected to continue to do so.

As a reminder, notifications will be sent by e-mail and the LiveSafe app.  

Regardless of Naropa University’s decision, if you ever believe the weather conditions are unsafe, please contact your supervisor and professors.  Naropa University trusts you to make thoughtful and wise decisions based on the conditions and situation in which you find yourself in.