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The effect of a short mindfulness meditation on somatosensory attention

Bokk, O. & Forster, T. ORCID: 0000-0001-5126-7854 (2022). The effect of a short mindfulness meditation on somatosensory attention. Mindfulness, doi: 10.1007/s12671-022-01938-z

Abstract

Objective: Mindfulness training has been theorized to have beneficial effects on mental health through initially changes in attention mechanisms. The aim of the present study was to assess the impact of a short mindfulness meditation on the P300 event related potential (ERP), a neural marker of attention, in meditation-naïve participants.

Method: As mindfulness practice is based on monitoring bodily sensations and breathing, we applied somatosensory stimuli to investigate attention changes. We employed an oddball paradigm with frequent tactile stimuli delivered to the tip of the index finger and infrequent stimuli to the base of the index and the little finger of the right hand to elicit the somatosensory P300. Forty-six participants counted the infrequent stimuli in two separate sessions before and after a 10-minute guided meditation, or a control audio clip. We also measured participants’ trait mindfulness (FFMQ) and anxiety (STAI-T) to ensure similar levels in the meditation and control group prior to the intervention.

Results: In line with previous research, we show decreased somatosensory P300 amplitudes to infrequent tactile target stimuli after compared to before the audio clip in the control group. Such a decrease in P300 amplitudes was not present in the mindfulness meditation group as confirmed in a significant group by time interaction.

Conclusion: Even a short mindfulness meditation leads to preservation of attention resources in meditation-naïve participants. The preservation (or lack of habituation) of the amplitude of the somatosensory P300 across repeated presentations may reflect the underlying, early neural mechanism by which mindfulness meditation training modulates executive attention.

Trial Registration: Open Science Framework; https://osf.io/pkxm3.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Publisher Keywords: Mindfulness, somatosensory, attention, oddball, P300, ERP
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Psychology
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