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Short-Term Effects of Meditation on Sustained Attention as Measured by fNIRS.

Authors
  • Izzetoglu, Meltem1
  • Shewokis, Patricia A2
  • Tsai, Kathryn1
  • Dantoin, Phillip1
  • Sparango, Kathryn1
  • Min, Katherine1
  • 1 Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, Villanova University, Villanova, PA 19085, USA.
  • 2 Nutrition Sciences Dept., College of Nursing and Health Professions; School of Biomedical Engineering Science and Health Systems, & School of Education, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Brain Sciences
Publisher
MDPI AG
Publication Date
Sep 04, 2020
Volume
10
Issue
9
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3390/brainsci10090608
PMID: 32899656
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Cognitive abilities such as attention, memory, processing time, perception, and reasoning can be augmented using some type of intervention. Within the broad range of conventional and unconventional intervention methods used in cognitive enhancement, meditation is one of those that is safe, widely practiced by many since ancient times, and has been shown to reduce stress and improve psychological health and cognitive functioning. Various neuroimaging studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) have shown functional and structural changes due to meditation in different types of meditation practices and on various groups of meditators. Recently, a few studies on meditation have used functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to study the effects of meditation on cerebral hemodynamics. In this study, we examined the short-term effects of loving-kindness (LK) meditation on sustained attention using behavioral performance measures, physiological outcomes, and cognitive activity as measured by fNIRS in first-time meditators during Stroop color word task (SCWT) performance. Our results indicated that behavioral outcomes, assessed mainly on response time (RT) during SCWT performance, showed a significant decrease after meditation. As expected, physiological measures, primarily pulse pressure (PP) measured after meditation dropped significantly as compared to the before meditation measurement. For the hemodynamic measures of oxygenated-hemoglobin (HbO2), deoxygenated-hemoglobin (Hb), and total-hemoglobin (HbT), our findings show significant differences in SCWT performance before and after meditation. Our results suggest that LK meditation can result in improvements in cognitive, physiological, and behavioral outcomes of first-time meditators after a short-term session.

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