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08-07-2020 | Original Article

Dual mechanisms of cognitive control in mindful individuals

Psychological Research
Nuria V. Aguerre, M. Teresa Bajo, Carlos J. Gómez-Ariza
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s00426-020-01377-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Not much research has adopted a multicomponent approach to examine the relationship between mindfulness and cognitive control. Studies addressing this issue have produced mixed results that may be due to the incorporation of different questionnaires to assess mindfulness and to the assessment of different stages and types of mindfulness itself. In the present study, we aimed to investigate to which extent dispositional mindfulness relates to a dynamic use of control modes as understood from the dual mechanisms of control theory. Further, we aimed to test this hypothesis by including two different frequently used mindfulness questionnaires in order to explore their confluence. Hundred thirty young adults completed two well-established assessment tools of mindfulness (Mindful Attention Awareness Scale and Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire) and two well-validated experimental tasks measuring proactive/reactive control modes (AX-Continuous Performance Task and Cued Task-Switching Paradigm). The data analyses were performed considering the continuous values in multiple regression analyses, as it is thought to better capture individual differences. The results replicate the previous findings suggesting that mindful individuals tend to use proactive and reactive control in a balanced manner in comparison to low mindfulness individuals, who tend to rely more on proactive control. Moreover, mindful individuals showed greater flexibility when the two processing modes were available. Hence, the major effects were found by using the two questionnaires. Altogether our findings indicate that mindful individuals, who have been characterized by an enhanced focus on the present moment without judgment, are less attached to the previous contextual information, which allows them to exhibit a more flexible performance.

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