Increase Concentrative Attentional Processes with Brief Mindfulness Training
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“mindfulness training produces measurable benefits to attention.” – Alexandra B. Morrison
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 what attentional processes are affected by mindfulness.
In today’s Research News article “The Effects of Brief Mindfulness Training on Attentional Processes: Mindfulness Increases Prepulse Facilitation but Not Prepulse Inhibition.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.582057/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1757290_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211021_arts_A ) Asli and colleagues recruited healthy adults (aged 20-41 years) and randomly assigned them to either mindfulness or control condition. They underwent attentional measurement with a prepulse facilitation / prepulse inhibition test. In the test they had the magnitude of their eyeblink recorded in response to a loud abrupt tone. The tone was presented alone or preceded by a soft tone either 120 milliseconds before which produces a reduction in the startle eyeblink (prepulse inhibition) or 2 seconds before which produces an increase in the startle eyeblink (prepulse facilitation). They then listened to a 23-minute audio tape containing either mindfulness training or classical music. Followed by a repeat of the attentional test.
They found that the groups did not differ in their startle reflex to the tone alone or when the tone was preceded by 120 milliseconds by a soft tone. But after mindfulness training there was a significantly greater increase in the startle response than in control condition when the tone was preceded by 2 seconds by a soft tone. This indicates that mindfulness training increases prepulse facilitation and not prepulse inhibition.
Mindfulness is known to increase concentrative attention which focuses attention on a single object. In the present experiment the increased concentration on the prepulse when presented 2 seconds before appeared to facilitate its effects on the startle response. Hence, the present findings suggest that mindfulness improves concentrative attention. The fact that this can be done with a single brief training underlines the power of mindfulness in improving attention. This has important consequences for cognitive performance and may explain the ability of mindfulness to improve thinking, reasoning, and creativity.
So, Increase Concentrative Attentional Processes with Brief Mindfulness Training.
” Mindfulness refines our attention so that we can connect more fully and directly with whatever life brings.” – Sharon Salzberg
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Åsli O, Johansen MF and Solhaug I (2021) The Effects of Brief Mindfulness Training on Attentional Processes: Mindfulness Increases Prepulse Facilitation but Not Prepulse Inhibition. Front. Psychol. 12:582057. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.582057
Mindfulness is intentional focus of one’s attention on emotions, thoughts, or sensations occurring in the present moment with a nonjudgmental attitude. Recently there has been increased interest in the effects of mindfulness practice on psychological processes such as concentration, focus, and attention. In the present study, a prepulse inhibition/facilitation (PPI/PPF) paradigm was employed to investigate the effect of brief mindfulness practice on automatic attention regulation processes. PPI occurs when a relatively weak prepulse (e.g., a tone) is presented 30–500 ms before a startle-inducing stimulus, and reduces the magnitude of the startle response. Prepulse facilitation (PPF) is the increase in startle magnitude when the prepulse is presented 500 ms or more before the startle-eliciting stimulus. In the present study, the effect of engaging in a 23-min mindfulness exercise on PPI and PPF was investigated. Participants listened to either a mindfulness instruction (mindfulness group) or relaxing music (control group). In a PPI/PPF pretest and posttest, a startle-eliciting noise was presented at lead intervals of 60, 120, and 2,000 ms. Results showed that engaging in brief mindfulness practice increased prepulse facilitation at the 2,000 ms lead interval in the posttest compared to the pretest. The amount of PPI did not differ between tests.