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The ability to focus one's attention underlies success in many everyday tasks, but voluntary attention cannot be sustained for extended periods of time. In the laboratory, sustained-attention failure is manifest as a decline in perceptual sensitivity with increasing time on task, known as the vigilance decrement. We investigated improvements in sustained attention with training (~ 5 hr/day for 3 months), which consisted of meditation practice that involved sustained selective attention on a chosen stimulus (e.g., the participant's breath). Participants were randomly assigned either to receive training first (n = 30) or to serve as waiting-list controls and receive training second (n = 30). Training produced improvements in visual discrimination that were linked to increases in perceptual sensitivity and improved vigilance during sustained visual attention. Consistent with the resource model of vigilance, these results suggest that perceptual improvements can reduce the resource demand imposed by target discrimination and thus make it easier to sustain voluntary attention.
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The capacity to focus one's attention for an extended period of time can be increased through training in contemplative practices. However, the cognitive processes engaged during meditation that support trait changes in cognition are not well characterized. We conducted a longitudinal wait-list controlled study of intensive meditation training. Retreat participants practiced focused attention (FA) meditation techniques for three months during an initial retreat. Wait-list participants later undertook formally identical training during a second retreat. Dense-array scalp-recorded electroencephalogram (EEG) data were collected during 6 min of mindfulness of breathing meditation at three assessment points during each retreat. Second-order blind source separation, along with a novel semi-automatic artifact removal tool (SMART), was used for data preprocessing. We observed replicable reductions in meditative state-related beta-band power bilaterally over anteriocentral and posterior scalp regions. In addition, individual alpha frequency (IAF) decreased across both retreats and in direct relation to the amount of meditative practice. These findings provide evidence for replicable longitudinal changes in brain oscillatory activity during meditation and increase our understanding of the cortical processes engaged during meditation that may support long-term improvements in cognition.

Mindfulness-based stress interventions are well suited to reduce the anxiety of clients living with employment uncertainty. With the advent of globalization, increased job flux, and at-will employment policies, feelings of insecurity are becoming more prevalent, contributing to work-related stress (D. L. Blustein, 2006), which in turn is associated with lowered job satisfaction, elevated turnover intentions, and increased cardiovascular risk (C. D. Spielberger, P. R. Vagg, & C. F. Wasala, 2003). Mindfulness, an intentional consciousness learned through meditation, can reduce psychological suffering by reducing the anticipation anxiety experienced by employed workers who face a high degree of employment uncertainty.

BACKGROUND: Many anecdotes and several uncontrolled case series have suggested that emotionally stressful events, and more specifically, anger, immediately precede and appear to trigger the onset of acute myocardial infarction. However, controlled studies to determine the relative risk of myocardial infarction after episodes of anger have not been reported. METHODS AND RESULTS: We interviewed 1623 patients (501 women) an average of 4 days after myocardial infarction. The interview identified the time, place, and quality of myocardial infarction pain and other symptoms, the estimated usual frequency of anger during the previous year, and the intensity and timing of anger and other potentially triggering factors during the 26 hours before the onset of myocardial infarction. Anger was assessed by the onset anger scale, a single-item, seven-level, self-report scale, and the state anger subscale of the State-Trait Personality Inventory. Occurrence of anger in the 2 hours preceding the onset of myocardial infarction was compared with its expected frequency using two types of self-matched control data based on the case-crossover study design. The onset anger scale identified 39 patients with episodes of anger in the 2 hours before the onset of myocardial infarction. The relative risk of myocardial infarction in the 2 hours after an episode of anger was 2.3 (95% confidence interval, 1.7 to 3.2). The state anger subscale corroborated these findings with a relative risk of 1.9 (95% confidence interval, 1.3 to 2.7). Regular users of aspirin had a significantly lower relative risk (1.4; 95% confidence interval, 0.8 to 2.6) than nonusers (2.9; 95% confidence interval, 2.0 to 4.1) (P<.05). CONCLUSIONS: Episodes of anger are capable of triggering the onset of acute myocardial infarction, but aspirin may reduce this risk. A better understanding of the manner in which external events trigger the onset of acute cardiovascular events may lead to innovative preventive strategies aimed at severing the link between these external stressors and their pathological consequences.
Zotero Collections: Contexts of Contemplation Project

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