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03-10-2017 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 3/2018

Mindfulness 3/2018

Multimodal Sustained Attention Superiority in Concentrative Meditators Compared to Nonmeditators

Tijdschrift:
Mindfulness > Uitgave 3/2018
Auteurs:
Paige Badart, John McDowall, Steven L. Prime

Abstract

Attention regulation plays a central role in both Buddhist and secular forms of meditation. One of the most common meditative practices is a concentrative meditation technique aimed at developing sustained focused attention. Despite a growing body of research showing meditation practice enhances various attention abilities, evidence of sustained attention benefits from meditation has been inconsistent. Also, most studies that tested meditators’ sustained attention abilities used visual tasks. The extent to which the putative superior sustained attention in meditators might generalize to other stimulus modalities (e.g., auditory), and thus, whether meditation is associated with general attentional enhancement, is still unclear. Here, we compared regular meditators’ sustained attention performance to nonmeditator controls using the response switching task (RST) in unimodal visual and auditory conditions (Exp 1) as well as bimodal visual-auditory conditions (Exp 2). The RST involves continuous responding to frequent stimuli and switching button-responses with an infrequent target stimulus. Errors in responding to the target signify difficulties in sustaining attention. Our main results showed that meditators made significantly fewer errors, indicating fewer attentional lapses in sustained attention, than nonmeditators across all unimodal and bimodal RST conditions, a finding that has not been reported before in previous studies. These findings provide further evidence of a positive association between meditators and enhanced sustained attention and new evidence that suggest that meditation is associated with general, modality nonspecific, enhancement of attentional control.

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