People Who Meditate Make Fewer Mistakes

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When you’re in a hurry, do you make more mistakes and forget things easily? Meditation may be the ideal antidote, according to researchers at Michigan State University.

More than 200 people who had never meditated before were recruited to participate in the study, which appeared in Brain Sciences. Subjects were given a 20-minute lesson in “Open Monitoring Meditation,” which concentrates on awareness of thoughts, feelings, and sensations as they develop in the mind and body. 

Brain activity was measured by electroencephalography (EEG). Participants were also asked to take a computerized distraction test. The results? Open Monitoring Meditation was shown to help increase error recognition, or as the researchers call it, “conscious error recognition.” 

“These findings are a strong demonstration of what just 20 minutes of meditation can do to enhance the brain’s ability to detect and pay attention to mistakes,” says study co-author Jason Moser. “It makes us feel more confident in what mindfulness meditation might really be capable of for performance and daily functioning right there in the moment.” 

Conclusion 

From the authors: “In sum, our study is a response to the growing calls to carefully parse apart mindfulness, with a specific eye toward explicit denotation and operationalization of the technicalities involved in the broad umbrella term “mindfulness training” (e.g., scope and object of awareness, training duration, sample experience). Critically, the aforementioned considerations extend beyond the study of error monitoring. As we have posited above, technical differences during mindfulness training may involve and affect a range of neurobiological systems. This suggestion dovetails with an evolving and increasingly nuanced literature, in which the neurobiological correlates and putative mechanisms of mindfulness training appear contingent on a host of conceptual, methodological, technical and sample dependent factors—a perspective aptly illustrated by the panoply of divergent findings reviewed here and in the literature more broadly. From this vantage point, future efforts aimed at developing a mechanistic understanding of mindfulness may be well served to not only clearly define what mindfulness is but also carefully consider the technical factors that comprise its training.”

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