Mindful breath awareness meditation facilitates efficiency gains in brain networks: A steady-state visually evoked potentials study
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2018
Pages: 1 - 10
Source ID: shanti-sources-86001
Collection: Contemplative Practices and Breath Research
Abstract: The beneficial effects of mindfulness-based therapeutic interventions have stimulated a rapidly growing body of scientific research into underlying psychological processes. Resulting evidence indicates that engaging with mindfulness meditation is associated with increased performance on a range of cognitive tasks. However, the mechanisms promoting these improvements require further investigation. We studied changes in behavioural performance of 34 participants during a multiple object tracking (MOT) task that taps core cognitive processes, namely sustained selective visual attention and spatial working memory. Concurrently, we recorded the steady-state visually evoked potential (SSVEP), an EEG signal elicited by the continuously flickering moving objects, and indicator of attentional engagement. Participants were tested before and after practicing eight weeks of mindful breath awareness meditation or progressive muscle relaxation as active control condition. The meditation group improved their MOT-performance and exhibited a reduction of SSVEP amplitudes, whereas no such changes were observed in the relaxation group. Neither group changed in self-reported positive affect and mindfulness, while a marginal increase in negative affect was observed in the mindfulness group. This novel way of combining MOT and SSVEP provides the important insight that mindful breath awareness meditation may lead to refinements of attention networks, enabling more efficient use of attentional resources.