Distracted, dizzy: meditation helps to let fewer mistakes pass

If you get distracted or blunder when you’re in a hurry, a new study from Michigan State University, the largest of its kind to date, has shown that meditation may help you become less prone to forgetfulness. , distractions and lack of concentration.

The study, published in Brain Sciences, showed how meditation (a meditation that focuses awareness on feelings, thoughts, or sensations), altered brain activity in ways that suggested increased recognition of mistakes and blunders that one can commit, just after having committed them.

“People’s interest in meditation and mindfulness is beyond what science can prove in terms of effects and benefits. But it’s amazing how a guided meditation session can produce changes in activity. cerebral,” said the head of the study.

The results suggest that different forms of meditation may have different neurocognitive effects. Some forms of meditation focus on a single object, usually the breath, but the meditation practiced while studying is a little different. It is a type of meditation that focuses on all that is going on in the mind and body. The point is to sit quietly and pay close attention to where the mind is traveling without getting too caught up in the scenery.

20 minutes of meditation alters brain activity favorably

The researchers recruited over 200 participants to test how meditation affects our ability to detect and respond to errors, distractions and forgetfulness.

The participants, who had never meditated before, began with a 20-minute meditation exercise while the researchers measured brain activity by electroencephalograph, or EEG. Then they finished with a “computerized distraction” test.

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EEG can measure brain activity at the millisecond level, so the researchers got accurate measurements of neural activity right after mistakes made during the test versus correct answers. A certain neural signal occurs about half a second after an error called “error positivity”, which is related to conscious error recognition. After meditation, the strength of this signal is increased relative to controls.

Although the meditators had no immediate improvements in actual task performance, the researchers’ findings offer a promising window into the potential of sustained meditation.

These results are a strong demonstration that just 20 minutes of meditation can improve the brain’s ability to detect errors and blunders. “Mindfulness meditation could really improve our daily ability to be more attentive and more responsive to correcting and remedying forgetfulness, distraction or absence,” concludes the researcher.

Lin et al: On Variation in Mindfulness Training: A Multimodal Study of Brief Open Monitoring Meditation on Error Monitoring, Brain Sciences (2019). DOI: 10.3390/brainsci9090226


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