Make Fewer Mistakes with Meditation

If you are someone who makes mistakes or are forgetful when you are in a hurry, a recent study from Michigan State Univ. has discovered that meditation could help in becoming less prone to error. The team tested how meditation that focuses awareness on thoughts, feelings and sensations or open monitoring meditation, alters brain activity in such a manner that has suggested increased error recognition.

People’s interest in mindfulness and meditation is greater than what science can prove when it comes to benefits and effects. The team was surprised to see how amazing it is to be able to see how just one session of a meditation that is guided can produce changes to activity in the brain in non-meditators.

Their findings have suggested that different types of meditation will have different neurocognitive effects. There is little research about how open monitoring will impact error recognition.

Some types of meditation have a person focus on a single object which is commonly a person’s breath, however open monitoring is a little different. It has a person tune in and then pay attention to what is going on in the body and mind. This goal is to sit very quietly and then pay close attention to a place the mind travels without getting fascinated with the scenery.

More than 200 participants were recruited to see how meditation with open monitoring affected how people respond and detect errors. All the participants had never meditated and were worked through a 20 minute exercise using open monitoring medication to see how they detected and responded to errors.

The team measured their brain activity through EEG. They then completed a distraction test that was computerized. The EEG measures brain activity at the millisecond level so the team was able to get measures that were precise of neural activity after correct responses compared to mistakes. A certain signal that is neural will occur half a second following an error which is known as the error positivity which is associated to conscious error recognition. The team discovered that the signal strength is increased relative to controls to the meditators.

Although the participants did not show immediate improvement to task performance, the team’s findings offered a promising window to the potential of sustained meditation.

The findings indicate that there is strong demonstration of just what 20 minutes of meditation do to magnify the ability of the brain to pay attention to and detect errors. It makes the researchers more confident in just what mindfulness meditation could be capable of for daily functioning and performance right in the moment.

Although mindfulness and meditation have driven more interest recently, the team is still among a very small group of researchers that are willing to take meuroscientific approach to assessing their performance and psychological effects.

The next phase of the team’s research is to include a larger group of participants and test a different variety of mediation and see whether changes in activity in the brain can translate with more long-term practice into behavioral changes.

They are excited in people’s enthusiasm for mindfulness, however there is still research of from a scientific perspective to be accomplished to better understand the benefits and also just as important, how it works.

To view the original scientific study click below:
On Variation in Mindfulness Training: A Multimodal Study of Brief Open Monitoring Meditation on Error Monitoring