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22-09-2017 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 3/2018

Mindfulness 3/2018

The Flexible Effect of Mindfulness on Cognitive Control

Mindfulness > Uitgave 3/2018
Jen-Ho Chang, Chun-Yu Kuo, Chin-Lan Huang, Yi-Cheng Lin


Based on the dual systems of the cognitive control model, the attainment of improved well-being requires both reactive and proactive cognitive control modes. However, previous studies have shown that adults are guided by top-down cognitive control as opposed to reactive control which interferes with the ability to learn new skills and consequently leads to an inflexible mindset (including tendencies such as confirmation bias). The present study proposes that mindfulness can be a means of balancing this cognitive control system by focusing on the present moment without judgment, thereby encouraging individuals to be more flexible in using both the reactive and proactive control modes. We used the AX version of the Continuous Performance Test to display the reactive and proactive control modes, and the results revealed that both more mindful individuals (study 1) and those in a brief mindfulness manipulation group (study 2) performed better with both reactive and proactive control, whereas in individuals with less mindfulness (study 1) and those in the control groups (study 2), proactive control dominated. Our findings support the idea that mindfulness enhances both reactive and proactive control, which leads to flexible cognitive control performance.

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