Different Meditation Types Produce Different Effects on Attention, Compassion, and Theory of Mind

Different Meditation Types Produce Different Effects on Attention, Compassion, and Theory of Mind

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The mental procedures used by various traditions and schools of meditation are fairly dissimilar. And recent scientific research has verified that these different ways of meditating activate different areas in our brain.” – Trancendental Meditation

 

Meditation training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. As a result, meditation training has been called the third wave of therapies. One problem with understanding meditation effects is that there are, a wide variety of meditation techniques and it is not known which work best for affecting different psychological areas.

 

There are a number of different types of meditation. Classically they’ve been characterized on a continuum with the degree and type of attentional focus. In focused attention meditation, the individual practices paying attention to a single meditation object. In open monitoring meditation, the individual opens up awareness to everything that’s being experienced including thoughts regardless of its origin. In Loving Kindness Meditation the individual systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “Differential benefits of mental training types for attention, compassion, and theory of mind.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6891878/), Trautwein and colleagues recruited healthy adults and assigned them to one of three conditions; presence, affect, and perspective training. Each condition consisted of a 3-day retreat followed by once a week 2-hour training session for 13 weeks along with daily home practice. The presence training focused on attention to the present moment and contained focused breath meditation, walking meditation, and body scan practices. The affect training focused on developing an “accepting, kind, and compassionate stance towards oneself and others” and contained loving kindness meditation, forgiveness meditation, and affect dyad practices. The perspective training focused on the central role that thoughts play in our lives and contained meditation of observing thoughts coming and going and perspective dyads. They were measured before and after training with a cued flanker task measuring executive control and attentional reorienting and a Theory of Mind and Social Cognition task measuring social cognitive and affective functions including compassion. Theory of mind refers to the ability to observe self-awareness in self and others.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the other modules, the presence training significantly improved executive control and attentional reorienting. They also found that the affect and perspective training produced significant improvements in the socio-emotional dimension of compassion. Finally, they found that perspective training produced significantly higher scores on Theory of Mind (understanding beliefs, desires, and needs of others). Hence the three different forms of mindfulness training affected different abilities.

 

The findings suggest that training on present moment awareness affects attentional abilities but not socio-emotional and theory of mind abilities. On the other hand, affect training affects socio-emotional abilities including compassion but not attention or theory of mind abilities. Finally, the results suggest that perspective training affects socio-emotional and theory of mind abilities but not attentional abilities. These findings suggest that different mindfulness training programs should be employed to target specific problem areas for the participant. They also suggest that incorporating components from presence, affect, and perspective training may produce a training package that enhances abilities in all domains.

 

So, different meditation types produce different effects on attention, compassion, and theory of mind.

 

“Meditation is a simple strategy that can help obtain better health and a happier life. It takes time to master, as does any other skill. If a person sticks with it and is willing to experiment with the different methods, they are more likely to discover a meditation style that suits them.” – Zawn Villines

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Trautwein, F. M., Kanske, P., Böckler, A., & Singer, T. (2020). Differential benefits of mental training types for attention, compassion, and theory of mind. Cognition, 194, 104039. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2019.104039

 

Abstract

Mindfulness- and, more generally, meditation-based interventions increasingly gain popularity, effectively promoting cognitive, affective, and social capacities. It is unclear, however, if different types of practice have the same or specific effects on mental functioning. Here we tested three consecutive three-month training modules aimed at cultivating either attention, socio-affective qualities (such as compassion), or socio-cognitive skills (such as theory of mind), in three training cohorts and a retest control cohort (N = 332). While attentional performance improved most consistently after attention training, compassion increased most after socio-affective training and theory of mind partially improved after socio-cognitive training. These results show that specific mental training practices are needed to induce plasticity in different domains of mental functioning, providing a foundation for evidence-based development of more targeted interventions adapted to the needs of different education, labor, and health settings.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6891878/

 

Reduce Anxiety and Improve Attention in Pre-Teens with Yogic Breathing

Reduce Anxiety and Improve Attention in Pre-Teens with Yogic Breathing

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Pranayama is an incredibly effective, important tool to teach children so they can control their energy, their mood, and their impulses.” – Amanda James

 

Breathing is essential for life and generally occurs automatically. It’s easy to take for granted as it’s been there our entire lives. Nevertheless, we become more aware of it when it varies with circumstances, such as when we exercise and also in emotional states, especially fear and anxiety. But we rarely notice it during everyday ongoing life. Yet, its characteristics are associated with our state of well-being. Slow deep breathing is characteristic of a healthy relaxed state. Breathing exercises are common in yoga practices and have been found to have a number of beneficial effects.

 

The Pre-teen years are transitional between childhood and adolescence. What happens here and what is learned can have a huge impact on the child’s ability to navigate the difficult years of adolescence. It is not known whether training in yogic breathing techniques can be beneficial for pre-teens.

 

In today’s Research News article “Immediate Effect of a Yoga Breathing Practice on Attention and Anxiety in Pre-Teen Children.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6678429/), Telles and colleagues recruited healthy pre-teen children (11-12 years of age) who practiced yoga and yogic breathing exercises and randomly assigned them to one of 3 orders of 3 interventions; high frequency yogic breathing, breath awareness, and quiet sitting practiced on successive days. The breathing exercises were practiced at school for 3 3.5-minute periods followed by 1-minute rest. They were measured before and after each session for anxiety and selective attention.

 

They found that there was a significant decrease in anxiety after all 3 interventions. After high frequency yogic breathing there was a significant increase in selective attention, while after breath awareness there was a significant increase in selective attention errors.

 

The reduction in anxiety cannot be definitively ascribed to the yogic exercises as quiet sitting also reduces anxiety. Anxiety reduction may also be due to relief for having finished the task as there was a reduction regardless of task. High frequency yogic breathing is known to produce physiological activation, increasing heart rate and blood pressure. This activation may be responsible for the improved selective attention. On the other hand, breath awareness practice tends to produce relaxation. It is possible that this relaxation reduces vigilance and increases errors in selective attention.

 

There is a need for more research on yogic breathing and its effects on anxiety levels to ascertain if the reduction in anxiety are due to contaminants such as placebo effects or relaxation after task completion. It is important to reduce anxiety in pre-teens as this is a difficult time and high levels of anxiety can interfere with the child’s ability to cope with the challenges. Also, improved selective attention with high frequency yogic breathing may help the pre-teens in their academic endeavors.

 

So, reduce anxiety and improve attention in pre-teens with yogic breathing.

 

kids love working with the breath!! There is so much fun to be had with breathing exercises. They find inner strength and peace, it uplifts them, calms them, and teaches them how to focus in nerve-wracking or anxiety-inducing situations. – Joanne Moules

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Telles, S., Gupta, R. K., Gandharva, K., Vishwakarma, B., Kala, N., & Balkrishna, A. (2019). Immediate Effect of a Yoga Breathing Practice on Attention and Anxiety in Pre-Teen Children. Children (Basel, Switzerland), 6(7), 84. doi:10.3390/children6070084

 

Abstract

Pre-teen children face stressors related to their transition from childhood to adolescence, with a simultaneous increase in academic pressure. The present study compared the immediate effects of 18 min of (i) high frequency yoga breathing with (ii) yoga-based breath awareness and (iii) sitting quietly, on (a) attention and (b) anxiety, in 61 pre-teen children (aged between 11 and 12 years; 25 girls). Attention was assessed using a six letter cancellation task and Spielberger’s State Trait Anxiety Inventory STAI-S was used to measure anxiety before and after the three practices, practiced on separate days. Repeated measures ANOVA, followed by Bonferroni adjusted post-hoc analyses showed an increase in total attempts and net scores after high frequency yoga breathing (p < 0.05), while wrong attempts increased after yoga based breath awareness (p < 0.05). Anxiety decreased comparably after all three interventions. The 25 girls in the group had the same trend of results as the whole group with respect to the attention-based cancellation task, while boys showed no, how since change. For both girls and boys, anxiety decreased after all three 18min interventions. The results suggest that high frequency yoga breathing could be a short, useful school based practice to improve attention and reduce anxiety.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6678429/

 

Improve Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Symptoms in Children with Yoga

Improve Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Symptoms in Children with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

research reports that yoga may help relieve attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.” – Elaine Gavalas

 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is most commonly found in children, but for about half it persists into adulthood. It’s estimated that about 5% of the adult population has ADHD. Hence, this is a very large problem that can produce inattention, impulsivity, hyperactivity, and emotional issues, and reduce quality of life. The most common treatment is drugs, like methylphenidate, Ritalin, which helps reducing symptoms in about 30% of the people with ADHD. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of the drugs appears to be markedly reduced after the first year. In addition, the drugs often have troublesome side effects, can be addictive, and can readily be abused. So, drugs, at present, do not appear to be a good solution, only affecting some, only for a short time, and with unwanted side effects.

 

There are indications that mindfulness training may be an effective treatment for ADHD. It makes sense that it should be, as the skills and abilities strengthened by mindfulness training are identical to those that are defective in ADHD,  attentionimpulse controlexecutive functionemotion control, and mood improvement. In addition, unlike drugs, it is a relatively safe intervention that has minimal troublesome side effects. Yoga is both an exercise and a mindfulness practice. This could be particularly attractive for kids with ADHD.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Yoga on Attention, Impulsivity, and Hyperactivity in Preschool-Aged Children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871620/), Cohen and colleagues recruited preschool children (3-5 years of age) who had at least 4 symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). They were randomly assigned to either 6 weeks of Yoga practice or a wait-list control condition. Yoga practice consisted of breathing exercises and poses and occurred twice a week at school in a group setting for 30 minutes and on other days at home guided by a DVD. Before and after the intervention and 6 weeks and 3 months later the parents and teachers completed measures of the children’s ADHD symptoms, emotional symptoms, conduct problems, peer problems, hyperactivity/inattention and prosocial behaviors. The children were also directly measured for attention in a computer-based test and for heart rate variability.

 

They found that for children with high Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptom scores, yoga practice produced significant reductions in inattention and hyperactivity/inattention ratings by the parents. On the attention task, after the yoga intervention the children had significantly improved attention but also significantly higher distractibility. These findings were maintained at follow-up.

 

The results suggest that yoga practice is particularly beneficial for children who are high in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms improving their attentional ability and hyperactivity. These findings require further investigation to look closer at students with lower ADHD scores. But, they suggest that yoga practice may be beneficial in treating ADHD  in preschool children. Intervening this early in development may help to prevent ADHD development and/or prevent its transition into adulthood.

 

So, improve attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms in children with yoga.

 

Pairing a hyperactive child with a quiet, slow form of exercise may sound counterintuitive and even disastrous, but it turns out yoga can be incredibly helpful for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).” – Dennis Thompson

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Cohen, S., Harvey, D. J., Shields, R. H., Shields, G. S., Rashedi, R. N., Tancredi, D. J., … Schweitzer, J. B. (2018). Effects of Yoga on Attention, Impulsivity, and Hyperactivity in Preschool-Aged Children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms. Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics : JDBP, 39(3), 200–209. doi:10.1097/DBP.0000000000000552

 

Abstract

Objective

Behavioral therapies are first line treatments for preschoolers with ADHD. Studies support yoga as an intervention for school age children with ADHD; this study evaluated the effects of yoga in preschoolers on parent and teacher rated attention/challenging behaviors; attentional control (KiTAP); and heart rate variability (HRV).

Methods

This randomized waitlist-controlled trial tested a 6-week yoga intervention in preschoolers with ≥ 4 ADHD symptoms on the ADHD Rating Scale-IV Preschool Version. Group 1 (n=12) practiced yoga first; Group 2 (n=11) practiced yoga second. We collected data at four time points: baseline, T1 (6 wk), T2 (12 wk), follow-up (3 mo after T2).

Results

At baseline, there were no significant differences between Group 1 and 2 on any measure. At T1, Group 1 had faster reaction times on the KiTAP Go/No go task (p=.01, 95% CI: −371.1, −59.1, d=−1.7), fewer Distractibility errors of omission (p=.009, 95% CI: −14.2, −2.3, d=−1.5), but more commission errors (p=.02, 95% CI:1.4, 14.8, d=1.3) than Group 2. Children in Group 1 with more severe symptoms at baseline showed improvement at T1 not seen in Group 2 on parent-rated Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire hyperactivity-inattention (β=−2.1, p=.04, 95% CI: −4.0, −0.1) and inattention on the ADHD Rating Scale (β=−4.4, p=.02, 95% CI: −7.9, −0.9). HRV measures did not differ between groups.

Conclusions

Yoga was associated with modest improvements on an objective measure of attention (KiTAP) and selective improvements on parent ratings. Yoga may be a promising treatment for ADHD symptoms in preschoolers.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871620/

 

Improve the Brain’s Attentional Networks with Mindfulness

Improve the Brain’s Attentional Networks with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

MBSR and RR body scans both induced a common increased functional connectivity between the brain’s ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which plays a role in attention.” – GORAMA

 

The nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity.  Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread area. and have found that meditation practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits. These brain changes with mindfulness practice are important and need to be further investigates.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction-related changes in posterior cingulate resting brain connectivity.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6778831/), Kral and colleagues recruited healthy meditation-naïve adults and randomly assigned them to 8 weeks of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, 8 weeks of a Health Education Program, or to a wait-list control condition. The MBSR program consisted of 8 weekly group sessions involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. The participants were also encouraged to perform daily practice at home. The amount of home practice time was recorded. Before and after the 8-week intervention they were measured for emotional styles and participated in 14 days of experience sampling with 6 to 8 prompts per day via cellphone to indicate attention to task or mind wandering. They also underwent brain scanning with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) before and after the intervention and 5.5 months later.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the health education and wait-list control groups, the participants who underwent the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program had a significant increase in the functional connectivity between the posterior cingulate cortex and the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex. They also found that the higher the self-reported attention levels and the greater the number of days of practice the MBSR participants engaged in, the greater the increase in functional connectivity. The connectivity increases and the relationships with attention and practice were no longer significant at the 5.5-month follow-up. There were no significant changes in mind-wandering.

 

These results are interesting and suggest that participation in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program produces short-term changes in the brain’s system that underlies executive function and attention (the posterior cingulate cortex and the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex). The results further suggest that the amount of change in the brain system is associated with attentional changes and the amount of practice.

 

That mindfulness training in general and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in particular improves attention and the neural systems underlying attention and executive function have been previously demonstrated. The present study demonstrates that these changes are related to the amounts of continuing practice suggesting the importance of practice outside of formal training sessions.

 

So, improve the brain’s attentional networks with mindfulness.

 

“mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the part of the brain that is in charge of mind-wandering and self-centeredness. Although we all struggle with taming that Monkey Mind, meditators are better at snapping out of it when the brain gets into a cycle of overthinking or negativity.” –  Jaime Carlo-Casellas

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Kral, T., Imhoff-Smith, T., Dean, D. C., Grupe, D., Adluru, N., Patsenko, E., … Davidson, R. J. (2019). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction-related changes in posterior cingulate resting brain connectivity. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 14(7), 777–787. doi:10.1093/scan/nsz050

 

Abstract

Mindfulness meditation training has been shown to increase resting-state functional connectivity between nodes of the frontoparietal executive control network (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex [DLPFC]) and the default mode network (posterior cingulate cortex [PCC]). We investigated whether these effects generalized to a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course and tested for structural and behaviorally relevant consequences of change in connectivity. Healthy, meditation-naïve adults were randomized to either MBSR (N = 48), an active (N = 47) or waitlist (N = 45) control group. Participants completed behavioral testing, resting-state fMRI scans and diffusion tensor scans at pre-randomization (T1), post-intervention (T2) and ~5.5 months later (T3). We found increased T2–T1 PCC–DLPFC resting connectivity for MBSR relative to control groups. Although these effects did not persist through long-term follow-up (T3–T1), MBSR participants showed a significantly stronger relationship between days of practice (T1 to T3) and increased PCC–DLPFC resting connectivity than participants in the active control group. Increased PCC–DLPFC resting connectivity in MBSR participants was associated with increased microstructural connectivity of a white matter tract connecting these regions and increased self-reported attention. These data show that MBSR increases PCC–DLPFC resting connectivity, which is related to increased practice time, attention and structural connectivity.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6778831/

 

Improve Emotions and Thinking with Mindfulness

Improve Emotions and Thinking with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Through mindfulness you can learn to turn your negative emotions into your greatest teachers and sources of strength. . . Instead of ‘turning away’ from pain in avoidance we can learn to gently ‘turn towards’ what we’re experiencing. We can bring a caring open attention towards the wounded parts of ourselves and make wise choices about how to respond to ourselves and to life.” – Melli O’Brien

 

Mindfulness is the ability to focus on what is transpiring in the present moment. It involves a greater emphasis on attention to the immediate stimulus environment. Mindful people generally have better attentional abilities and have fewer intrusive thoughts and less mind wandering. As a result, mindfulness has been shown to be associated with improved cognition (thinking). In addition, mindfulness practice has been shown to improve emotions and their regulation. Practitioners demonstrate more positive and less negative emotions and the ability to fully sense and experience emotions, while responding to them in appropriate and adaptive ways. In other words, mindful people are better able to experience yet control their responses to emotions.

 

Most of the research studying the effects of mindfulness on emotions and thinking have been conducted with western participants. It is important to assess the generalizability of these findings to eastern populations. In today’s Research News article “Can Mindfulness-Based Training Improve Positive Emotion and Cognitive Ability in Chinese Non-clinical Population? A Pilot Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6619344/), Zhu and colleagues recruited healthy Chinese college students who never participated in mindfulness practices. They were randomly assigned to receive either a 12 week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training or no treatment. The MBSR program met for 2.5 hours once a week along with 30-45 minutes of daily home practice and consisted of discussion, meditation, yoga, and body scan practices. They were measured before, during, and after training for mindfulness, emotions, attention with a Continuous Performance Task, and executive function with a Stroop task.

 

They found that in comparison to the no-treatment control group, after training the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) group had significantly higher mindfulness and positive emotions. They had faster responses on the Continuous Performance Task, suggesting better sustained attention.  They further found that the greater the increase in mindfulness, the greater the increases in positive emotions and sustained attention, suggesting that the training effected mindfulness which, in turn, affected emotions and attention.

 

It has been well established that mindfulness trainings, such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) are effective in improving emotions, attention, and mindfulness in western participants. The present study demonstrates that similar effects occur in eastern participants. This expands the generalizability of the findings, suggesting that MBSR training is effective regardless of race and culture.

 

So, improve emotions and thinking with mindfulness.

 

Flexing your ability to think about your thinking and practicing brief bouts of daily meditation is good for your health and has an endless list of psychological and physical benefits for your well-being.” – Christopher Bergland

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Zhu, T., Xue, J., Montuclard, A., Jiang, Y., Weng, W., & Chen, S. (2019). Can Mindfulness-Based Training Improve Positive Emotion and Cognitive Ability in Chinese Non-clinical Population? A Pilot Study. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 1549. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01549

 

Abstract

Objective

Based on eastern philosophy, mindfulness is becoming popular for human being’s mental health and well-being in western countries. In this study, we proposed to explore the effectiveness and potential pathway of mindfulness-based training (MBT) on Chinese Non-clinical higher education students’ cognition and emotion.

Methods

A paired control design was used. 48 higher education students (24 in MBT group, 24 in control group) were recruited in the study. The MBT group engaged in a 12-week MBT. A package of measurements, including sustained attention tasks (The Continuous Performance Test, CPT), executive function task (Stroop) for cognitive functions, the self-reported mindfulness levels (The Mindful Attention Awareness Scale, MAAS) and emotion (The Profile of Mood States, POMS), were apply for all participants at baseline and every 4 weeks during next 12 weeks.

Results

There were no differences in baseline demographic variables between two groups. Over the 12-week training, participants assigned to MBT group had a significantly greater reduction in CPT reaction time (Cohen’s d 0.72), significantly greater improvement in positive emotion (Vigor-Activity, VA) (Cohen’s d 1.08) and in MAAS (Cohen’s d 0.49) than those assigned to control group. And, MAAS at 4th week could significantly predict the CPT RT and VA at 8th week in the MBT group. VA at 4th week could significantly predict the CPT RT at 8th week (B = 4.88, t = 2.21, p = 0.034, R2= 0.35).

Conclusion

This study shows the efficiency of 12-week MBT on Chinese Non-clinical students’ cognition and emotion. Mindfulness training may impact cognition and emotion through the improvement in mindfulness level, and may impact cognition through the improvement in positive emotion.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6619344/

 

Improve Eating Behavior in Obese Cancer Survivors with Mindfulness

Improve Eating Behavior in Obese Cancer Survivors with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindful eating helps you distinguish between emotional and physical hunger. It also increases your awareness of food-related triggers and gives you the freedom to choose your response to them.” – Adda Bjarnadottir

 

Eating is produced by two categories of signals. Homeostatic signals emerge from the body’s need for nutrients, is associated with feelings of hunger, and usually work to balance intake with expenditure. Non-homeostatic eating, on the other hand, is not tied to nutrient needs or hunger but rather to the environment, to emotional states, and or to the pleasurable and rewarding qualities of food. These cues can be powerful signals to eat even when there is no physical need for food. External eating is non-homeostatic eating in response to the environmental stimuli that surround us, including the sight and smell of food or the sight of food related cause such as the time of day or a fast food restaurant ad or sign.

 

Mindful eating involves paying attention to eating while it is occurring, including attention to the sight, smell, flavors, and textures of food, to the process of chewing and may help reduce intake. Indeed, high levels of mindfulness are associated with lower levels of obesity and mindfulness training has been shown to reduce binge eating, emotional eating, and external eating.

 

A mindfulness training technique that was developed to treat addictions called Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) involves 10 weekly sessions of 2 hours and includes mindful breathing and body scan meditations, cognitive reappraisal to decrease negative emotions and craving, and savoring to augment natural reward processing and positive emotion. Participants are also encouraged to practice at home for 15 minutes per day. It is not known if MORE is effective in changing eating behavior in obese women cancer survivors.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement Restructures Reward Processing and Promotes Interoceptive Awareness in Overweight Cancer Survivors: Mechanistic Results From a Stage 1 Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6552347/), Thomas and colleagues recruited obese (BMI >30) women who had a cancer diagnosis either current or in remission. They were randomly assigned to receive a 10-week, 1.5-hour session, once per week, of either a standard exercise and nutrition program or the Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) program. The participants were measured before and after the program for body composition, eating behaviors, interoceptive awareness, savoring the moment, and attention bias toward food. In addition, they were measured for muscular electrical responses to food and non-food pictures to assess responsiveness to cues.

They found that in comparison to baseline and the exercise and nutrition program Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) produced significantly greater increases in smiling to natural reward cues, and interoceptive awareness including increases in noticing body sensations, attention regulation, self-regulation, and body listening, and significant decreases in attentional responsiveness to food cues and external eating. Using a path analysis, they found that MORE had its effects on attentional responsiveness to food cues directly and also indirectly by its positive effects on attention bias toward natural reward cues that, in turn, negatively affected their responsiveness to food cues. Finally, these decreases in attentional responsiveness to food cues were related to decreases in the participants’ waist to hip ratio.

 

These results are interesting and suggest that Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) may reduce inappropriate responsiveness to food in obese women with cancer by increasing their awareness of their internal state (interoceptive awareness) and their responsiveness to natural reward cues. Hence, the training makes the women more sensitive to their actual internal state which makes them more responsive to real hunger and satiety and less responsive to non-homeostatic eating signals. In addition, it appears to allow them to receive more reward from non-food related natural stimuli and thereby reduce their need to receive reward through eating. Thus, MORE appears to improve obese women’s ability to better regulate their eating behavior.

 

So, improve eating behavior in obese cancer survivors with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness practice helps individuals develop skills for self-regulation by improving awareness of emotional and sensory cues, which are also important in altering one’s relationship with food.” –  Sunil Daniel

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Thomas, E. A., Mijangos, J. L., Hansen, P. A., White, S., Walker, D., Reimers, C., … Garland, E. L. (2019). Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement Restructures Reward Processing and Promotes Interoceptive Awareness in Overweight Cancer Survivors: Mechanistic Results From a Stage 1 Randomized Controlled Trial. Integrative cancer therapies, 18, 1534735419855138. doi:10.1177/1534735419855138

 

Abstract

Introduction: The primary aims of this Stage I pilot randomized controlled trial were to establish the feasibility of integrating exercise and nutrition counseling with Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE), a novel intervention that unites training in mindfulness, reappraisal, and savoring skills to target mechanisms underpinning appetitive dysregulation a pathogenic process that contributes to obesity among cancer survivors; to identify potential therapeutic mechanisms of the MORE intervention; and to obtain effect sizes to power a subsequent Stage II trial. Methods: Female overweight and obese cancer survivors (N = 51; mean age = 57.92 ± 10.04; 88% breast cancer history; 96% white) were randomized to one of two 10-week study treatment conditions: (a) exercise and nutrition counseling or (b) exercise and nutrition counseling plus the MORE intervention. Trial feasibility was assessed via recruitment and retention metrics. Measures of therapeutic mechanisms included self-reported interoceptive awareness, maladaptive eating behaviors, and savoring, as well as natural reward responsiveness and food attentional bias, which were evaluated as psychophysiological mechanisms. Results: Feasibility was demonstrated by 82% of participants who initiated MORE receiving a full dose of the intervention. Linear mixed models revealed that the addition of MORE led to significantly greater increases in indices of interoceptive awareness, savoring, and natural reward responsiveness, and, significantly greater decreases in external eating behaviors and food attentional bias—the latter of which was significantly associated with decreases in waist-to-hip ratio. Path analysis demonstrated that the effect of MORE on reducing food attentional bias was mediated by increased zygomatic electromyographic activation during attention to natural rewards. Conclusions and Implications: MORE may target appetitive dysregulatory mechanisms implicated in obesity by promoting interoceptive awareness and restructuring reward responsiveness.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6552347/

 

Change Brain Connectivity for Better Attention and Thinking with Mindfulness

Change Brain Connectivity for Better Attention and Thinking with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness meditation training increases resting state connectivity between top-down executive control regions, highlighting an important mechanism through which it reduces stress levels.” – Daniel Reed

 

There has accumulated a large amount of research demonstrating that mindfulness has significant benefits for psychological, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. It even improves high level thinking known as executive function and emotion regulation and compassion. Its positive effects are so widespread that it is difficult to find any other treatment of any kind with such broad beneficial effects on everything from thinking to mood and happiness to severe mental and physical illnesses. This raises the question of how mindfulness training could produce such widespread and varied benefits. One possibility is that mindfulness practice results in beneficial changes in the nervous system.

 

The nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity. Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread areas. In other words, mindfulness practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits. The changes are complex and require sophisticated brain scanning techniques to detect. Hence there is a need to continue investigating the nature of these changes in the brain produced by meditation.

 

In today’s Research News article “Trait Mindfulness and Functional Connectivity in Cognitive and Attentional Resting State Networks.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6473082/), Parkinson and colleagues recruited undergraduate students who had never meditated, measured them for mindfulness, and scanned their brains under resting conditions with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). They examined the functional connectivity of a number of established neural networks and their relationship with mindfulness.

 

They found that mindfulness was negatively related to the functional connectivity of the Default Mode Network (DMN) and positively related to the functional connectivity of the Salience Network, the Central Executive Network, and Attention Network. The Default Mode Network (DMN) has been shown to be associated with mind wandering and self-referential thinking. It is not surprising that mindfulness would be associated with lower levels of the functioning of this network. Indeed, previous work has demonstrated that mindfulness is associated with reduced “mind wandering.”

 

The Salience Network is involved in detecting and filtering important stimuli in the environment from the environment and thereby gets involved in a myriad of high level psychological and social functions. The results suggest that being more mindful is associated with being more sensitive to important information.

 

The Central Executive Network has been shown to be associated with high level thinking and behavioral control. Hence, the results further suggest that high mindfulness is associated with improved cognition. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown through extensive research to be associated with better cognitive ability.

 

Finally, the Attention Network has been found to be associated with, no surprise, the ability to attend and focus. This suggests that high mindfulness is associated with improved attention ability. Again, this reflects other research which demonstrated that mindfulness is associated with a greater ability to attend.

 

Hence the study demonstrated the associations with mindfulness with functional connectivity in various neural networks tracks the demonstrated effects of mindfulness on the individual’s ability to focus, think, and stay in the present moment. This further suggests that changes in the operations of the brain are produced by mindfulness and that hese changes in turn produced improved functional capacities.

 

So, change brain connectivity for better attention and thinking with mindfulness.

 

“Just 11 hours of learning a meditation technique induce positive structural changes in brain connectivity by boosting efficiency in a part of the brain that helps a person regulate behavior in accordance with their goals,” – University of Oregon

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Parkinson, T. D., Kornelsen, J., & Smith, S. D. (2019). Trait Mindfulness and Functional Connectivity in Cognitive and Attentional Resting State Networks. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 13, 112. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2019.00112

 

Abstract

Mindfulness has been described as an orienting of attention to the present moment, with openness and compassion. Individuals displaying high trait mindfulness exhibit this tendency as a more permanent personality attribute. Given the numerous physical and mental health benefits associated with mindfulness, there is a great interest in understanding the neural substrates of this trait. The purpose of the current research was to examine how individual differences in trait mindfulness associated with functional connectivity in five resting-state networks related to cognition and attention: the default mode network (DMN), the salience network (SN), the central executive network (CEN), and the dorsal and ventral attention networks (DAN and VAN). Twenty-eight undergraduate participants completed the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), a self-report measure of trait mindfulness which also provides scores on five of its sub-categories (Observing, Describing, Acting with Awareness, Non-judging of Inner Experience, and Non-reactivity to Inner Experience). Participants then underwent a structural MRI scan and a 7-min resting state functional MRI scan. Resting-state data were analyzed using independent-component analyses. An analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was performed to determine the relationship between each resting state network and each FFMQ score. These analyses indicated that: (1) trait mindfulness and its facets showed increased functional connectivity with neural regions related to attentional control, interoception, and executive function; and (2) trait mindfulness and its facets showed decreased functional connectivity with neural regions related to self-referential processing and mind wandering. These patterns of functional connectivity are consistent with some of the benefits of mindfulness—enhanced attention, self-regulation, and focus on present experience. This study provides support for the notion that non-judgmental attention to the present moment facilitates the integration of regions in neural networks that are related to cognition, attention, and sensation.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6473082/

 

Improve Attention and Hyperactivity in Kindergarten Children with Yoga

Improve Attention and Hyperactivity in Kindergarten Children with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga is a systematic workout regimen that has rejuvenating and calming effects on our body and mind. Young kids go through conflicting emotions, and yoga helps calm them down. They are also extremely flexible and therefore, a practice like yoga will help them contort their bodies in different ways.” – Shirin Mehdi

 

Yoga practice has been shown to have a large number of beneficial effects on the psychological, emotional, and physical health of the individual and is helpful in the treatment of mental and physical illness. The acceptance of yoga practice has spread from the home and yoga studios to its application with children in schools. Studies of these school programs have found that yoga practice produces a wide variety of positive psychosocial and physical benefits.

 

Teachers also note improvements in their students following yoga practice. These include improved classroom behavior and social–emotional skills, concentration, mood, ability to function under pressure, social skills, and attention and lower levels of hyperactivity. In addition, school records, academic tests have shown that yoga practice produces improvements in student grades and academic performance. This, in turn, improves the classroom experience for the teachers. Hence there are very good reasons to further study the effects of yoga practice early in children’s schooling; kindergarten.

 

In today’s Research News article “12 Weeks of Kindergarten-Based Yoga Practice Increases Visual Attention, Visual-Motor Precision and Decreases Behavior of Inattention and Hyperactivity in 5-Year-Old Children.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00796/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_963174_69_Psycho_20190416_arts_A), Jarraya and colleagues recruited kindergarten students and randomly assigned them to either practice yoga, normal physical education, or no treatment control. Yoga and Physical Education occurred twice per week for 30 minutes for 12 weeks. The Hatha yoga practice included postures and breathing exercises. The children were measured by their kindergarten teacher before and after the treatments for visual attention, visuomotor precision, inattention, and hyperactivity/impulsivity.

 

They found that in comparison to PE and control children, the children who practiced yoga had significantly improved visual attention and visuomotor precision, and significantly lower inattention, and hyperactivity/impulsivity. Visuomotor precision is a measure of cognitive function and includes measures of language, memory and learning, sensorimotor, social perception, and visuospatial processing. Hence, yoga practice improved attention, behavioral control, and higher-level thinking in the kindergarten children.

 

These are exciting results that are similar to those observed with older children. The abilities observed to have improved in the kindergarten children who practiced yoga are abilities that are essential for school performance. Attention is a key ability and that along with an additional reduction in hyperactivity sets the stage for learning. Then improved cognitive ability further heightens learning ability. This suggests that yoga practice has large benefits and should be recommended for young children to promote their ability to learn and perform in school.

 

So, improve attention and hyperactivity in kindergarten children with yoga.

 

“It sounds kind of goofy to people who don’t work with little kids, but kids that have a weak core have a hard time sitting still, and that can look like they’re not paying attention. Those are the kinds of mind-body connections you don’t think about until you start looking into it.” – Chas Zelinsky

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Jarraya S, Wagner M, Jarraya M and Engel FA (2019) 12 Weeks of Kindergarten-Based Yoga Practice Increases Visual Attention, Visual-Motor Precision and Decreases Behavior of Inattention and Hyperactivity in 5-Year-Old Children. Front. Psychol. 10:796. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00796

 

The present study assesses the impact of Kindergarten-based yoga on cognitive performance, visual-motor coordination, and behavior of inattention and hyperactivity in 5-year-old children. In this randomized controlled trial, 45 children (28 female; 17 male; 5.2 ± 0.4 years) participated. Over 12 weeks, 15 children performed Hatha-yoga twice a week for 30 min, another 15 children performed generic physical education (PE) twice a week for 30 min, and 15 children performed no kind of physical activities, serving as control group (CG). Prior to (T0) and after 12 weeks (T1), all participants completed Visual Attention and Visuomotor Precision subtests of Neuropsychological Evaluation Battery and teachers evaluated children’s behavior of inattention and hyperactivity with the Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Rating Scale-IV. At T0, no significant differences between groups appeared. Repeated measures analysis of variance revealed that following Bonferroni–Holm corrections yoga, in comparison to PE and CG, had a significant positive impact on the development on behavior of inattention and hyperactivity. Further, yoga has a significant positive impact on completion times in two visumotor precision tasks in comparison to PE. Finally, results indicate a significant positive effect of yoga on visual attention scores in comparison to CG. 12 weeks of Kindergarten-based yoga improves selected visual attention and visual-motor precision parameters and decreases behavior of inattention and hyperactivity in 5-year-old children. Consequently, yoga represents a sufficient and cost-benefit effective exercise which could enhance cognitive and behavioral factors relevant for learning and academic achievement among young children.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00796/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_963174_69_Psycho_20190416_arts_A

 

Heighten Mental and Physical Well-Being with Mindfulness Training

Heighten Mental and Physical Well-Being with Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others. If greater well-being isn’t enough of an incentive, scientists have discovered that mindfulness techniques help improve physical health in a number of ways. Mindfulness can: help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, , improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties.” – Harvard Health

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. Techniques such as Mindfulness Training, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) as well as Yoga practice and Tai Chi or Qigong practice have been demonstrated to be effective. This has led to an increasing adoption of these mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals.

 

This research suggests that engaging in mindfulness practices can make you a better human being, with greater mental and physical well-being. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Training: Can It Create Superheroes?” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00613/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_951898_69_Psycho_20190404_arts_A), Jones and colleagues review and summarize the published research on the effects of mindfulness training on psychological and physical well-being.

 

They found that the published research presented substantial findings that mindfulness training enhanced physical functioning including improved health, decreased heart rate, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood cortisol and resistance to disease, including improved stress responding, increased immune system response, and decreased inflammatory responses. They also report the mindfulness training produces tended to protect against the mental and physical effects of aging, including reduced cognitive decline and reduced brain deterioration. In addition, they report that mindfulness training produces improved cognitive processing, including improved heightened attentional ability, improved neural processing, and alterations of brain systems underlying consciousness. Mindfulness training also produced greater resilience and fearlessness, including improved emotion regulation, reduced responding to negative stimuli, lower pain responding, and lower fear conditioning. Mindfulness training also produced more self-less and pro-social behaviors, including increased altruism, increased kindness, and compassion. Finally, they report that mindfulness training can produce some control over autonomic responses.

 

This review suggests that people who engage in mindfulness training become superior in mental and physical health to non-practitioners and have superior cognitive abilities particularly in regard to attention and higher-level thinking. This doesn’t exactly make them “superheroes” but rather better versions of themselves.

 

So, heighten mental and physical well-being with mindfulness training.

 

Ultimately, engaging in mindfulness meditation cultivates our ability to both focus and broaden our attention, which is a practical way to elicit psychological well-being.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Jones P (2019) Mindfulness Training: Can It Create Superheroes? Front. Psychol. 10:613. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00613

 

With the emergence of the science of heroism there now exists both theoretical and empirical literature on the characteristics of our everyday hero. We seek to expand this inquiry and ask what could be the causes and conditions of a superhero. To address this we investigate the origins of mindfulness, Buddhist psychology and the assertion that its practitioners who have attained expertise in mindfulness practices can develop supernormal capabilities. Examining first their foundational eight “jhana” states (levels of attention) and the six consequent “abhinnas” (siddhis or special abilities) that arise from such mental mastery, we then explore any evidence that mindfulness practices have unfolded the supernormal potential of its practitioners. We found a growing base of empirical literature suggesting some practitioners exhibit indicators of enhanced functioning including elevated physical health and resistance to disease, increased immunity to aging and improved cognitive processing, greater resilience and fearlessness, more self-less and pro-social behaviors, some control over normally autonomic responses, and possibly some paranormal functionality. These improvements in normal human functioning provide some evidence that there are practices that develop these abilities, and as such we might want to consider adopting them to develop this capability. There are however insufficient studies of expert meditators and more research of adepts is called for that explores the relationship between levels of attentional skill and increases in functionality. We propose in search of the superhero, that if conventional mindfulness training can already augment mental and physical capabilities, a more serious inquiry and translation of its advanced methods into mainstream psychological theory is warranted.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00613/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_951898_69_Psycho_20190404_arts_A

Improved Executive Attention with Mindfulness is Mediated by Brain Processing

Improved Executive Attention with Mindfulness is Mediated by Brain Processing

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

With practice, we can strengthen the part of our brain that helps focus and sustain attention. Building that strength has enormous payoffs in performance, relationships and a sense of well-being.” – Laurie Cameron

 

One of the primary effects of mindfulness training is an improvement in the ability to pay attention to the task at hand and ignore interfering stimuli. This is an important consequence of mindfulness training and produces improvements in thinking, reasoning, and creativity. The importance of heightened attentional ability to the individual’s ability to navigate the demands of complex modern life cannot be overstated. It helps in school, at work, in relationships, or simply driving a car. As important as attention is, it’s surprising that little is known about the mechanisms by which mindfulness improves attention

 

There is evidence that mindfulness training improves attention by altering the brain. It appears That mindfulness training increases the size, connectivity, and activity of areas of the brain that are involved in paying attention. A common method to study the activity of the nervous system is to measure the electrical signal at the scalp above brain regions. Changes in this activity are measurable with mindfulness training.

 

One method to observe attentional processing in the brain is to measure the changes in the electrical activity that occur in response to specific stimuli. These are called event-related potentials or ERPs. The signal following a stimulus changes over time. The fluctuations of the signal after specific periods of time are thought to measure different aspects of the nervous system’s processing of the stimulus. The P3 response in the evoked potential (ERP) is a positive going electrical response occurring between a 2.5 to 5 tenths of a second following the target stimulus presentation. The P3 component is thought to reflect attentional processing.

 

In today’s Research News article “). Clarifying the relationship between mindfulness and executive attention: A combined behavioral and neurophysiological study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6374600/), Lin and colleagues recruited female college students who did not have a mindfulness practice and measured their trait mindfulness and tested them for attention with a flanker task where the participant had to respond to a stimulus and ignore irrelevant but distracting material. During the task the Electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded and the brain electrical response to the stimulus recorded (ERP).

 

They found that the higher the level of the student’s mindfulness the better they performed on the flanker task, indicating better executive attention. Also, the higher the level of mindfulness, the smaller the P3 component in the event-related potential (ERP) when highly distracting flanker material was present. Mediation analysis revealed that mindfulness was associated by better performance both directly by being associated with fewer errors and also indirectly by being associated with a smaller P3 component in the ERP which, in turn, was associated with fewer errors.

 

These results suggest that mindfulness is associated with better executive attention allowing the individual to better ignore distractions. It appears to do so in two ways, directly and also by influencing a brain mechanism that heightens attention. This is an important benefit of mindfulness as better attentional ability is important for virtually every aspect of life from school performance to social interactions. This study suggests that a brain mechanism may, in part, be responsible for this important benefit of mindfulness.

 

Hence, improved executive attention with mindfulness is mediated by brain processing.

 

“Being able to exercise focused attention simply means being able to direct your attention, becoming aware if your mind has wandered, and then being able to redirect your focus.” – Rich Fernandez

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Lin, Y., Fisher, M. E., & Moser, J. S. (2018). Clarifying the relationship between mindfulness and executive attention: A combined behavioral and neurophysiological study. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 14(2), 205–215. Advance online publication. doi:10.1093/scan/nsy113

 

Abstract

Mindfulness is frequently associated with improved attention. However, the nature of the relationship between mindfulness and executive attention, a core function of the attentional system, is surprisingly unclear. Studies employing behavioral measures of executive attention have been equivocal. Although neuroscientific studies have yielded more consistent findings, reporting functional and structural changes in executive attention brain regions, the observed changes in brain activity have not been linked to behavioral performance. The current study aimed to fill these gaps in the literature by examining the extent to which trait mindfulness related to behavioral and neurophysiological (indexed by the stimulus-locked P3) measures of executive attention. Results revealed that higher trait mindfulness was related to less flanker interference on accuracy and reaction time, consistent with enhanced executive attention. Critically, mediational analyses showed that the P3 accounted for the relationship between trait mindfulness and executive attention performance, elucidating a neural mechanism through which mindfulness enhances executive attention.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6374600/