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08-02-2019 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 7/2019

Mindfulness 7/2019

Mindfulness Induces Changes in Anterior Alpha Asymmetry in Healthy Older Adults

Mindfulness > Uitgave 7/2019
Ben Isbel, Jim Lagopoulos, Daniel F. Hermens, Mathew J. Summers
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s12671-019-01106-w) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Anterior alpha asymmetry is an EEG measure of relative left- or right-sided prefrontal cortical activity that has been associated with affective style, such that greater relative left-sided activity is associated with positive affect and approach-related behaviours. While mindfulness has been shown to enhance attention and affect, here we investigate the underlying neurobiological changes supporting these outcomes by assessing anterior alpha asymmetry.


A longitudinal RCT was conducted to investigate the effect of an 8-week mindfulness training (MT) intervention on anterior alpha asymmetry and affect in a group of healthy adults aged over 60 years (n = 41). An active control computer-based attention training (CT) program (n = 26) designed to activate similar attentional components to mindfulness was used to determine if outcomes resulted from attention training or mindfulness-specific factors. The Sustained Attention to Response Task was used to assess attentional performance, while a breath counting task was used to classify mindfulness participants into high (MT-HIGH; n = 19) and low (MT-LOW; n = 22) proficiency groups.


While all groups displayed improved attentional performance, only the MT-HIGH and MT-LOW groups showed significant increases in positive affect as measured by the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule. The MT-HIGH group showed significantly increased relative left-sided activity at both Fp1/Fp2 and F3/F4 electrode pairs, while no significant changes were observed in the MT-LOW and CT groups.


These results suggest that 8 weeks of mindfulness training is capable of inducing changes in resting anterior alpha asymmetry, but these results are dependent upon the level of proficiency achieved.

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Extra materiaal
Supplementary Material 1 Participant acceptance criteria for inclusion into the study (PDF 76 kb)
Supplementary Material 2 Weekly structure of the training interventions. (PDF 47 kb)
Supplementary Material 3 Computer-based attention training tasks utilised in the active control condition. (PDF 54 kb)
Supplementary Material 4 Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART) (PDF 179 kb)
Supplementary Material 5 Correlational results for change in alpha asymmetry, affect, and breath-counting accuracy. (PDF 73 kb)
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