Mindfulness training (MT) is a form of mental training in which individuals engage in exercises to cultivate an attentive, present centered, and non-reactive mental mode. The present study examines the putative benefits of MT in University students for whom mind wandering can interfere with learning and academic success. We tested the hypothesis that short-form MT (7 h over 7 weeks) contextualized for the challenges and concerns of University students may reduce mind wandering and improve working memory. Performance on the sustained attention to response task (SART) and two working memory tasks (operation span, delayed-recognition with distracters) was indexed in participants assigned to a waitlist control group or the MT course. Results demonstrated MT-related benefits in SART performance. Relative to the control group, MT participants had higher task accuracy and self-reported being more “on-task” after the 7-week training period. MT did not significantly benefit the operation span task or accuracy on the delayed-recognition task. Together these results suggest that while short-form MT did not bolster working memory task performance, it may help curb mind wandering and should, therefore, be further investigated for its use in academic contexts.
Keywords: mindfulness training, mind wandering, working memory training, cognitive training, sustained attention
Citation: Morrison AB, Goolsarran M, Rogers SL and Jha AP (2014) Taming a wandering attention: Short-form mindfulness training in student cohorts. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 7:897. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00897
Received: 31 October 2013; Paper pending published: 18 November 2013;
Accepted: 09 December 2013; Published online: 06 January 2014.
Edited by:John J. Foxe, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, USA
Reviewed by:Vernon Anthony Barnes, Georgia Health Sciences University, USA
Copyright © 2014 Morrison, Goolsarran, Rogers and Jha. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
*Correspondence: Amishi P. Jha, Department of Psychology, University of Miami, 5665 Ponce de Leon, Miami, FL 33158, USA e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org