Violent and criminal behaviors have increased in recent years in many countries, with the younger population constituting one of the main actors involved in this phenomenon. It has been hypothesized that alterations in inhibitory control play a crucial role in the appearance and persistence of such behaviors. Mindfulness meditation promotes detailed observation of sensations, emotions, and thoughts that involve cognitive processes and brain circuits closely related to inhibitory control. To determine the effect of mindfulness meditation on inhibitory control in young offenders.
A total of 40 young male offenders (16–23 years) were recruited from a juvenile correctional facility, all of whom had committed violent crimes before the age of 18. The youths were divided into two groups of 20 participants each: treatment and control. A Stroop task and two Stop-signal tasks, one with happy, fearful, angry, and neutral facial stimuli, were performed before and after a 10-week mindfulness meditation training program.
Compared to controls, the young offenders who participated in mindfulness training improved their inhibitory control after treatment, as reflected in an increase in their reaction times on the Stop-signal task (F(1,36) = 12.87, p = .031, η2 = .261), and a decrease in the number of errors on the Stroop task (F(1,36) = 4.684, p = .037, η2 = .115).
Mindfulness meditation training improved inhibitory control and, therefore, may have a positive effect on mitigating violent behavior in young offenders.