In a recent study, researchers from Yale University and Swarthmore College find that a 10-minute meditation tape could help college students perform cognitive tasks better.
Previous research has shown that mindfulness meditation training improves executive attention.
For example, people who practice meditation for a few weeks or months tend to perform better on cognitive tests.
Brain studies have found that this effect could be driven by more efficient allocation of resources on demanding attentional tasks.
However, it is not clear whether these changes depend on long-term meditation practice.
In the study, the team examined the effects of a brief, 10-min meditation session on attention in people new in meditation, compared to a control activity (listening to a tape about sequoia trees).
The researchers found that people assigned to listen to a meditation tape could perform a attention task faster than the control group.
These people also showed changes in brain activity related to attention.
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.
The researchers suggest that their results support the hypothesis that even brief meditation improves allocation of attentional resources in some people new to meditation.
They also suggest that people don’t have to spend weeks practicing to see improvement of their cognitive skills.
In the future, the team will examine if longer meditation sessions, or multiple meditation sessions, would improve cognitive scores better.
Yale’s Hedy Kober, associate professor of psychiatry and psychology, is senior author of the study.
The study is published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
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Source: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.