Summary: A new study reveals a short time meditating can help to boost cognitive performance. Researchers report students exposed to a ten minue meditation tape were able to complete simple cognitive tasks more quickly and accurately than their peers.
College students who listen to a 10-minute meditation tape complete simple cognitive tasks more quickly and accurately than peers who listen to a “control” recording on a generic subject, researchers at Yale University and Swarthmore College report.
The study, published Aug. 6 in the journal Frontiers of Neuroscience, shows even people who have never meditated before can benefit from even a short meditation practice.
“We have known for awhile that people who practice meditation for a few weeks or months tend to perform better on cognitive tests, but now we know you don’t have to spend weeks practicing to see improvement,” said Yale’s Hedy Kober, associate professor of psychiatry and psychology and senior author of the study.
The research team headed by Kober and Catherine Norris at Swarthmore randomly divided college students into two groups. One group listened to a 10-minute recording on meditation prior to performing cognitive tests and the second group listened to a similarly produced tape about sequoia trees.
Both groups were then given simple tasks designed to measure cognitive dexterity. Those who listened to the meditation recording performed significantly better, across two studies.
There was one exception, however. Those who scored highest in measurements of neuroticism — “I worry all the time” — did not benefit from listening to the meditation tape.
“We don’t know if longer meditation sessions, or multiple sessions, would improve their cognitive scores, and we look forward to testing that in future studies,” Kober said.
Source: Bill Hathaway – Yale
Publisher: Organized by NeuroscienceNews.com.
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Original Research: Open access research for “Brief Mindfulness Meditation Improves Attention in Novices: Evidence From ERPs and Moderation by Neuroticism” by Catherine J. Norris, Daniel Creem, Reuben Hendler and Hedy Kober in Frontiers of Neuroscience. Published August 6 2018.
Brief Mindfulness Meditation Improves Attention in Novices: Evidence From ERPs and Moderation by Neuroticism
Past research has found that mindfulness meditation training improves executive attention. Event-related potentials (ERPs) have indicated that this effect could be driven by more efficient allocation of resources on demanding attentional tasks, such as the Flanker Task and the Attention Network Test (ANT). However, it is not clear whether these changes depend on long-term practice. In two studies, we sought to investigate the effects of a brief, 10-min meditation session on attention in novice meditators, compared to a control activity. We also tested moderation by individual differences in neuroticism and the possible underlying neural mechanisms driving these effects, using ERPs. In Study 1, participants randomly assigned to listen to a 10-min meditation tape had better accuracy on incongruent trials on a Flanker task, with no detriment in reaction times (RTs), indicating better allocation of resources. In Study 2, those assigned to listen to a meditation tape performed an ANT more quickly than control participants, with no detriment in performance. Neuroticism moderated both of these effects, and ERPs showed that those individuals lower in neuroticism who meditated for 10 min exhibited a larger N2 to incongruent trials compared to those who listened to a control tape; whereas those individuals higher in neuroticism did not. Together, our results support the hypothesis that even brief meditation improves allocation of attentional resources in some novices.