Even quick meditation aids cognitive skills

August 7, 2018 by Bill Hathaway, Yale University
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

College students who listen to a 10-minute meditation tape complete simple cognitive tasks more quickly and accurately than peers who listen to a "control" recording on a generic subject, researchers at Yale University and Swarthmore College report.

The study, published Aug. 6 in the journal Frontiers of Neuroscience, shows even people who have never meditated before can benefit from even a short practice.

"We have known for awhile that people who practice meditation for a few weeks or months tend to perform better on cognitive tests, but now we know you don't have to spend weeks practicing to see improvement," said Yale's Hedy Kober, associate professor of psychiatry and psychology and senior author of the study.

The research team headed by Kober and Catherine Norris at Swarthmore randomly divided into two groups. One group listened to a 10-minute recording on meditation prior to performing and the second group listened to a similarly produced tape about sequoia trees.

Both groups were then given simple tasks designed to measure cognitive dexterity. Those who listened to the meditation recording performed significantly better, across two studies.

There was one exception, however. Those who scored highest in measurements of neuroticism—"I worry all the time"—did not benefit from listening to the meditation tape.

"We don't know if longer meditation sessions, or multiple sessions, would improve their cognitive scores, and we look forward to testing that in future studies," Kober said.

Explore further: Meditate regularly for an improved attention span in old age

More information: Catherine J. Norris et al. Brief Mindfulness Meditation Improves Attention in Novices: Evidence From ERPs and Moderation by Neuroticism, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (2018). DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2018.00315

Related Stories

Meditate regularly for an improved attention span in old age

March 28, 2018
Regular and intensive meditation sessions over the course of a lifetime could help a person remain attentive and focussed well into old age. This is according to the most extensive longitudinal study to date examining a group ...

7-year follow-up shows lasting cognitive gains from meditation

April 5, 2018
Gains in the ability to sustain attention developed through intensive meditation training are maintained up to seven years later, according to a new study published in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement. The study is based ...

Meditation and music may help reverse early memory loss in adults at risk for Alzheimer's disease

January 23, 2017
In a recent study of adults with early memory loss, a West Virginia University research team lead by Dr. Kim Innes found that practice of a simple meditation or music listening program may have multiple benefits for older ...

Yoga and meditation improve brain function and energy levels

September 6, 2017
Practicing brief sessions of Hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation can significantly improve brain function and energy levels, according to a new study from the University of Waterloo.

Meditation promotes adaptability

May 18, 2015
Certain meditation techniques can promote behavior to vary adaptively from moment to moment depending on current goals, rather than remaining rigid and inflexible. This is the outcome of a study by Lorenza Colzato and Iliana ...

Meditation: different approaches, different benefits

April 19, 2018
(HealthDay)—Deep breathing is a great stress reliever, and the technique called mindfulness meditation is a helpful way to use breathing to get more in touch with your inner self.

Recommended for you

Study suggests biological basis for depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances in older adults

October 15, 2018
UC San Francisco researchers, in collaboration with the unique Brazilian Biobank for Aging Studies (BBAS) at the University of São Paulo, have shown that the earliest stages of the brain degeneration associated with Alzheimer's ...

Early changes to synapse gene regulation may cause Alzheimer's disease

October 15, 2018
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia, involving memory loss and a reduction in cognitive abilities. Patients with AD develop multiple abnormal protein structures in their brains that are thought to ...

Clues that suggest people are lying may be deceptive, study shows

October 12, 2018
The verbal and physical signs of lying are harder to detect than people believe, a study suggests.

How to avoid raising a materialistic child

October 12, 2018
If you're a parent, you may be concerned that materialism among children has been on the rise. According to research, materialism has been linked to a variety of mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, as ...

The long-term effects of maternal high-fat diets

October 12, 2018
If a mother eats a high-fat diet, this can have a negative effect on the health of her offspring—right down to her great-grandchildren. This is the conclusion drawn by researchers at ETH Zurich from a study with mice.

Study finds orgasm face and pain face are not the same

October 11, 2018
A team of researchers from the UK and Spain has found evidence showing that contrary to popular belief, the orgasm face is not the same as the pain face. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of ...

4 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Anonym518498
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 07, 2018
Did my taxpayer money go for this nonsense?
TheMuffinMan
5 / 5 (3) Aug 07, 2018
How dare colleges teach this crap that makes kids preform mental tasks better using my tax dollars. There are some terrorists in Syria that we could've used that money to bomb.
mqr
5 / 5 (1) Aug 07, 2018
Teaching meditation reduces emotions, which yields to live in harmony and spiritual development. But yes, many humans want sadness, destruction, misery, segregation, and so on.... they would prefer to distribute weapons in the community, rather than instructing people in the inner development of calm through meditation. They are all about coercive ''living''.

Currently I work in a company where the manager hates with much intensity. A self-described racist, sexist, etc. And yet he expresses dissapointment for people being low in motivation, so he fires them from the jobs, he screams, he shows up drunk. Of course, workoholic.. Does he need meditation, or a weapon?
s-l-y
not rated yet Aug 08, 2018
Mqr: I like your tone

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.