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01-09-2011 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 3/2011

Mindfulness 3/2011

Short-Term Training in Loving-Kindness Meditation Produces a State, But Not a Trait, Alteration of Attention

Mindfulness > Uitgave 3/2011
Christopher J. May, Michelle Burgard, Melissa Mena, Imran Abbasi, Noah Bernhardt, Samantha Clemens, Eve Curtis, Eben Daggett, Jaimie Hauch, Kayla Housh, Alison Janz, Amber Lindstrum, Kimberly Luttropp, Rebecca Williamson


While mindfulness meditation has been associated with enhanced attentional abilities, the consequences of loving-kindness meditation for attention have not previously been investigated. We examined the trait and state effects of 8 weeks of training in loving-kindness meditation (LKM) on the attentional blink. The attentional blink is a period of time in which a target stimulus is less likely to be detected if it follows too quickly (approximately 500 ms) after a previously detected target. For the two experiments reported here, a group of participants trained in LKM by meditating for approximately 15 min per day, four days per week, for 8 weeks. Experiment 1 utilized a pre-post design, with a non-meditating control group, to examine whether this training reduced the attentional blink. No differences were found. However, in an exploratory analysis, meditators did exhibit increases in two facets of mindfulness measured by the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire: observation and descriptiveness. In experiment 2, we tested for a state effect of LKM by having trained meditators practice LKM immediately prior to the attentional blink task. Here, meditators had a significantly reduced blink size compared to control participants. To establish that this reduction was caused by the combination of LKM training with pre-task meditation, we analyzed the data in experiment 2 with respect to one of our previous works, which reported that the practice of LKM immediately prior to the attentional blink task in those without meditation training did not reduce the blink magnitude. This analysis also revealed a significant difference. Therefore, training in LKM, coupled with its practice immediately prior to an attention task, caused a state reduction in the attentional blink. These results are the first to demonstrate that LKM, an emotion-focused practice, influences cognitive processing.

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