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Mindful breath awareness meditation facilitates efficiency gains in brain networks: A steady-state visually evoked potentials study

Schöne, B, Gruber, T, Graetz, S, Bernhof, M and Malinowski, P (2018) Mindful breath awareness meditation facilitates efficiency gains in brain networks: A steady-state visually evoked potentials study. Scientific Reports, 8. ISSN 2045-2322

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Open Access URL: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-32046-5 (Published version)


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.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: meditation; SSVEP; EEG; visual attention; working memory
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Natural Sciences & Psychology (closed 31 Aug 19)
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2018 09:53
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 02:30
DOI or ID number: 10.1038/s41598-018-32046-5
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/9217
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