Mindfulness Alters Rapid Temporal Order Perception

Mindfulness Alters Rapid Temporal Order Perception

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness represents a balanced and holistic subjective experience of time.” – Ian LeSueur

 

We have a bias to notice things occurring on the left first. This is probably due to our training with words and numbers to pay attention first to the leftmost character. But this produces a perceptual bias when looking at two events occurring very close in time producing a tendency to see the leftmost stimulus as occurring first even when they occur at the first time. Mindfulness has been shown to alter time perception. It has also been shown to enhance attention which could also alter time perception. It is not known, however, if mindfulness training might alter the left to right bias in perception.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Meditation Biases Visual Temporal Order Discrimination but Not Under Conditions of Temporal Ventriloquism.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01937/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1401267_69_Psycho_20200811_arts_A) Tian and colleagues recruited healthy adults and randomly assigned them to receive either mindfulness training or to a wait-list control condition. Mindfulness training consisted of 8 weekly 2.5-hour sessions including discussion, walking and sitting meditation, body scan, and yoga along with daily 30-minute practice.

 

Before and after training they participated in a temporal order perception task in which two disks were visually presented at the same time of separated in time by either 50, 100, or 150 milliseconds. Half the time the left disk was first and half the right disk was first. These were presented under 3 conditions, visually only, accompanied with beeps, or with a beep 50 milliseconds before the first disk and 50 milliseconds after the second disk.

 

There is a normal left to right tendency such that people have a bias to see the disk on the left side as being first. This bias was amplified by mindfulness training. They found that after mindfulness training there was a significantly greater tendency to see the left disk as first. In addition, the greater the mindfulness facet of acting with awareness the greater the increase in the bias. Interesting, the difference disappeared when the beeps were present either synchronously with the disks or preceded and followed the disks by 50 milliseconds.

 

These findings are interesting in that they show the effects of mindfulness training on temporal judgement of very rapidly occurring events. This was probably due to the enhanced attention that occurs with mindfulness training. The fact that a distractor, the beeps, eliminated the effects suggests that mindfulness only has this effect under simple conditions where attention focus can be maximized.

 

So, mindfulness alters rapid temporal order perception.

 

The subjective experience of an acceleration of time arises partially from the fact that the cognitive resources are fully occupied by the realization of the mindfulness activity.” – Sylvie Droit-Volet

 

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

 

Tian Y, Liu X and Chen L (2020) Mindfulness Meditation Biases Visual Temporal Order Discrimination but Not Under Conditions of Temporal Ventriloquism. Front. Psychol. 11:1937. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01937

 

This study examined how cognitive plasticity acquired from a long (8 weeks) course of mindfulness training can modulate the perceptual processing of temporal order judgment (TOJ) on a sub-second scale. Observers carried out a TOJ on two visual disks, with or without concurrent paired beeps. A temporal ventriloquism paradigm was used in which the sound beeps either were synchronized with the two disks or bracketed the visual stimuli by leading the first disk by 50 ms and lagging the other by 50 ms. A left-to-right bias in TOJ was found under the visual-only condition after mindfulness training. This bias was positively correlated with “acting with awareness,” a factor in the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, showing that awareness of every moment and enhanced attention focus magnify the left-to-right bias. However, the effect of mindfulness training may be short-lived and was not present when attention was diverted by auditory events in the cross-modal temporal ventriloquism illusion.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01937/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1401267_69_Psycho_20200811_arts_A

Meditation Alters the Perception of the Passage of Time

Meditation Alters the Perception of the Passage of Time

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Experienced meditators typically report that they experience time slowing down in meditation practice as well as in everyday life. Conceptually this phenomenon may be understood through functional states of mindfulness.” – Marc Wittmann

 

There are times in life when time just seems to wiz by and others when it seems to creep. There are also times when it seems like a minute passing feels like 5 minutes and others when it feels like only a few seconds. In other words, our sense of the speed of time passing and the amount of time that has passed varies from occasion to occasion. One factor that effects the perception of time is the content of the interval and the frequency of events occurring. If the interval is relatively packed with events and stimuli, then the time period is overestimated, suggesting that time seemed to pass more slowly. If, on the other hand, there are few things occurring in the interval, then time is underestimated, suggesting that time seemed to pass more quickly.

 

Meditation involves paying close attention to the contents of the present moment; calming the mind and reducing thinking and discursive thought. Focusing on the present moment would tend to fill awareness. This suggests that meditating would increase the apparent amount of things occurring and would thus predict that the interval would appear longer than otherwise.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness meditation, time judgment and time experience: Importance of the time scale considered (seconds or minutes).” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6799951/), Droit-Volet and colleagues recruited college students and randomly assigned them to receive either mindfulness meditation (body scan) or a control condition (listening to poems). In the first study, the mindfulness meditation participants listened to a guided body scan meditation while lying on their backs at home for 11 minutes daily for 7 days. The control condition was similar except they listened to recorded poems. They were then tested in the lab where they first meditated or listened to poems for 8 minutes and then were presented by tones separated either by short intervals (16-50 seconds) or long intervals (2-6 minutes) and were asked to estimated the duration of the intervals.

 

They found that the meditation group in comparison to the controls significantly underestimated the duration of the short intervals and significantly overestimated the duration of the longer intervals. During the session the meditation group but not the control group reported a significant reduction in anxiety and a significant increase in happiness and significantly faster passage of time.

 

In a second study a similar procedure was followed except that the same participants performed the meditation and also the control condition in counterbalanced order and only long intervals were used. In addition, they reported for each interval the passage of time, demands on their attention, task difficulty, present moment focus, and arousal levels.

 

Once again, they found that during the meditation session the participants overestimated the durations of the long intervals. They also indicated significantly longer passage of time, significantly greater demands on their attention, task difficulty, and present moment focus. They found that present moment awareness mediated the effect of meditation on duration estimates with the greater the focus on the present moment the greater the overestimation of the interval duration.

 

They suggest that the underestimation of the short intervals by the meditation group was due to the effects of attentional focus on the apparent passage of time with high degrees of attentional focus occupying the mind such that there is little resource left for assessing the passage of time. The results also suggest that the overestimation of long intervals was due to attention on the present moment. By focusing on the contents of awareness in the present moment there is a greater amount of stimuli in awareness, filling awareness. More happening signals a greater amount of time passing. Regardless of the explanation, the study demonstrates that meditation alters the estimation of time passage.

 

So, meditation alters the perception of the passage of time.

 

My favorite pastime is to let time pass, to have time, to take my time, to live against time.” — Françoise Sagan

 

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

 

Droit-Volet, S., Chaulet, M., Dutheil, F., & Dambrun, M. (2019). Mindfulness meditation, time judgment and time experience: Importance of the time scale considered (seconds or minutes). PloS one, 14(10), e0223567. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0223567

 

Abstract

This manuscript presents two studies on the effect of mindfulness meditation on duration judgment and its relationship to the subjective experience of time when the interval durations are on the second or the minute time scale. After the first 15 minutes of a 30-min meditation or control exercise, meditation-trained participants judged interval durations of 15 to 50 s or 2 to 6 min, during which they performed either a mindfulness meditation exercise or a control exercise. The participants’ scores on the self-reported scales indicated the effectiveness of the meditation exercise, as it increased the level of present-moment awareness and happiness and decreased that of anxiety. The results showed an underestimation of time for the short interval durations and an overestimation of time for the long intervals, although the participants always reported that time passed faster with meditation than with the control exercise. Further statistical analyses revealed that the focus on the present-moment significantly mediated the exercise effect on the time estimates for long durations. The inversion in time estimates between the two time scales is explained in terms of the different mechanisms underlying the judgment of short and long durations, i.e., the cognitive mechanisms of attention and memory, respectively.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6799951/

 

Improve Balanced Time Perspective with Mindfulness

Improve Balanced Time Perspective with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“It is how we think about the future that determines whether the outcome is beneficial. You can think about what you want and how to make it happen, or you can think about what you don’t want and worry about how to prevent it from happening. The first way increases your chances of bringing positive emotions and experiences into your life, while the second causes you to experience negative emotions about things that may never happen; further, it decreases the amount of time and energy you have for creating positive experiences.” – Jannice Vilhauer

 

Mindfulness stresses present moment awareness, minimizing focus on past memories and

future planning. But, to effectively navigate the environment it is necessary to remember past experiences and project future consequences of behavior. So, there is a need to be balanced such that the amount of attention focused on the past, present, and future is balanced. This has been termed as balanced time perspective. It is possible that mindfulness helps balance time perspective or that it might even overly emphasize the present moment to the detriment of balance. The relationship of mindfulness to this balanced time perspective has not been previously investigated.

 

In today’s Research News article “Self-Compassion and Subjective Well-Being Mediate the Impact of Mindfulness on Balanced Time Perspective in Chinese College Students.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6395405/), Ge and colleagues recruited college students and measured them for mindfulness, self-compassion, subjective well-being, balanced time perspective, and time perspective including subscales measuring past negative, past positive, present fatalistic, present hedonistic, and future.

 

They found that mindfulness was positively related to balanced time perspective directly with the higher the levels of mindfulness the better the balance in time perspective. They also observed that mindfulness was positively related to balanced time perspective indirectly through self-compassion and subjective well-being such that high levels of mindfulness was associated with higher levels of self-compassion and subjective well-being which, in turn, were associated with higher balanced time perspective.

 

These results are interesting and for the first time demonstrate a positive relationship of mindfulness to balanced time perspective. Since a balanced time perspective may be seen as an adaptive mix of past, present, and future perspectives, it is possible that this is one of the reasons that mindfulness has such positive effects on mental health and well-being. So, mindfulness may be beneficial not just by increasing present moment awareness but also by producing appropriate allocation of attention to the past or the future where appropriate. It remains for future research to examine these possibilities.

 

So, improve balanced time perspective with mindfulness.

 

“while a mindfulness exercise that shifts attention to internal events extends one’s experience of time, a mindfulness exercise that shifts attention to an external event could potentially make time feel like it’s passing more quickly.” – Emily Nauman

 

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

 

Ge, J., Wu, J., Li, K., & Zheng, Y. (2019). Self-Compassion and Subjective Well-Being Mediate the Impact of Mindfulness on Balanced Time Perspective in Chinese College Students. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 367. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00367

 

Abstract

Balanced time perspective is associated with optimal social functioning and provides psychological benefits in times of stress. Previous studies have found that mindfulness is positively associated with balanced time perspective and might promote it. However, the mechanism through which mindfulness affects balanced time perspective remains unexplored. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the mediating role of self-compassion and subjective well-being in the relationship between mindfulness and balanced time perspective. A total of 754 Chinese college students, aged 17–27 years, completed the Chinese versions of the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, Self-Compassion Scale, Subjective Well-Being Scale, and Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory. There were significant positive correlations between mindfulness, self-compassion, subjective well-being, and balanced time perspective. Structural equation modeling indicated that in addition to the direct influence of mindfulness on balanced time perspective, self-compassion and subjective well-being played a partial mediating role. On the basis of these findings, we conclude that mindfulness has an important positive influence on balanced time perspective, and highlights the crucial role of the self-compassion in cultivating a balanced time perspective. Limitations of the present study are also discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6395405/

 

Meditation Practice Amplifies Awareness of the Cause of an Event

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Meditation Practice Amplifies Awareness of the Cause of an Event

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“What is an illusion is when you are looking but not seeing completely, listening but also daydreaming. To walk around half perceiving and half in a daydream, this is to walk around in an illusion and in a dream. What is worse is when the dreams of the mind cloud perception.” –  Brian Miles

 

Meditation, by training and improving attention to everything that occurs, is thought to produce a greater awareness of cause and effect. This is particularly evident in recognizing when an event was caused by one’s own volitional actions. One way to measure this is called “Intentional binding.” It refers to the subjectively reported time compression that occurs between an intentional action and its outcome when compared to the timing of an action alone and of an event that does not depend upon an action” (Haggard, Clark and Kalogeras 2002). In other words, when an event is perceived to have been produced intentionally, the time between the cause and effect is experienced as shorter than if there was no intention involved.

 

It would be predicted, then, that if experienced meditators had better attentional ability that they should show greater “Intentional binding” than non-meditators; they should estimate less time between a cause and an effect when they are the initiator of the event than when they are not.. In today’s Research News article “Illusory Temporal Binding in Meditators.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1478243438866244/?type=3&theater

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12671-016-0583-z/fulltext.html

Lush and colleagues examine this prediction. They recruited experienced meditators with on average 15 years of experience and a group of age and gender matched non-meditators. The participants either initiated the presentation of a tone by pressing a button which produced the tone a quarter of a second later or simply observed the tone presented by the computer. After a delay the participants move a clock hand to the time that they experienced the tone occurring. The difference between the actual time and the perceived time of the tone was measured. “Intentional binding” was measured by the difference between the errors for the intentional and the non-intentional conditions.

 

They found that meditators errors were significantly greater in estimating the time of occurrence of the tone as earlier when they initiated the tone than when they didn’t. This suggests greater “Intentional binding” for the meditators than the matched non-meditators. Although this is a fairly indirect way of measuring the individual’s ability to recognize the cause of an event, it suggests that meditation improves the individual’s ability to recognize intention. This, in turn, suggests that meditation training makes an individual more aware of agency, that is what caused and event to occur.

 

These results further document the improvements in attentional ability produced by meditation practice. In this case the attention to the cause of events occurring in their experience. Meditation practice appears to alter our mental processing of experience heightening our attention to and awareness of what is occurring around us. Since most modern people are constantly distracted and rarely in contact with what is actually happening around them in the present moment, meditation practice would appear to be an antidote to the modern disease of inattention to the present.

 

Whether you’re interested in mindfulness or cognitive neuroscience, perception is at the heart of your work with others.  Helping people become aware of their perceptions assists them in counterbalancing a tendency to become awash with their affect.“ – Megan Van Meter

 

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 Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Lush, P., Parkinson, J. & Dienes, Z. Illusory Temporal Binding in Meditators.  Mindfulness (2016) 7: 1416. doi:10.1007/s12671-016-0583-z

 

Abstract

We investigate conditions in which more accurate metacognition may lead to greater susceptibility to illusion and thus conditions under which mindfulness meditation may lead to less accurate perceptions. Specifically, greater awareness of intentions may lead to an illusory compression of time between a voluntary action and its outcome (“intentional binding”). Here, we report that experienced Buddhist mindfulness meditators rather than non-meditators display a greater illusory shift of the timing of an outcome toward an intentional action. Mindfulness meditation involves awareness of causal connections between different mental states, including intentions. We argue that this supports improvements in metacognition targeted at motor intentions. Changes in metacognitive ability may result in an earlier and less veridical experience of the timing of action outcomes either through increased access to sensorimotor pre-representations of an action outcome or by affording greater precision to action timing judgements. Furthermore, as intentional binding is an implicit measure of the sense of agency; these results also provide evidence that mindfulness meditators experience a stronger sense of agency.

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12671-016-0583-z/fulltext.html