Navigation Links
Meditation May Fine-Tune Control Over Attention

Everyday experience and psychology research both indicate that paying close attention to one thing can keep you from noticing something else.

However, a new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggests that attention does not have a fixed capacity - and that it can be improved by directed mental training, such as meditation.

Seeing and mentally processing something takes time and effort, says psychology and psychiatry professor Richard Davidson of the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health and the Waisman Center. Because a person has a finite amount of brainpower, paying close attention to one thing may mean the tradeoff of missing something that follows shortly thereafter. For example, when two visual signals are shown a half-second apart, people miss the second one much of the time.

"The attention momentarily goes off-line," Davidson says. "Your attention gets stuck on the first target, then you miss the second one." This effect is called "attentional blink," as when you blink your eyes, you are briefly unaware of visual signals. But, he adds, the ability to occasionally catch the second signal suggests that this limitation is not strictly physical, but that it may be subject to some type of mental control.

Led by postdoctoral fellow Heleen Slagter, Davidson's research group in the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior recruited subjects interested in meditation to study whether conscious mental training can affect attention. "Meditation is a family of methods designed to facilitate regulation of emotion and attention," says Davidson.

The new study, which appears online May 8 in the journal PLoS Biology, examined the effects of three months of intensive training in Vipassana meditation, which focuses on reducing mental distraction and improving sensory awareness.

Volunteers were asked to look for target numbers that were mixed into a series of distr acting letters and quickly flashed on a screen. As subjects performed the task, their brain activity was recorded with electrodes placed on the scalp. In some cases, two target numbers appeared in the series less than one-half second apart - close enough to fall within the typical attentional blink window.

The research group found that three months of rigorous training in Vipassana meditation improved people's ability to detect a second target within the half-second time window. In addition, though the ability to see the first target did not change, the mental training reduced the amount of brain activity associated with seeing the first target.

"The decrease (of brain activity associated with the first target) strongly predicted the accuracy of their ability to detect the second target," Davidson says.

The results of the study show that devoting fewer neural resources to the first target leaves enough left over to attend to another target that follows shortly after it, he says.

Because the subjects were not meditating during the test, their improvement suggests that prior training can cause lasting changes in how people allocate their mental resources.

"Their previous practice of meditation is influencing their performance on this task," Davidson says. "The conventional view is that attentional resources are limited. This shows that attention capabilities can be enhanced through learning."

The finding that attention is a flexible skill opens up many possibilities, says Davidson. For example, he suggests, "Attention training is worth examining for disorders with attentional components, like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder."


'"/>




Related medicine news :

1. Fight Heart disease and Pain with Meditation
2. Meditation relieves stress
3. Meditation relieves stress
4. Meditation Works Medically
5. Meditation may reduce stress and help you live longer
6. Meditation Maintains And Thickens The Grey Matter Of The Brain
7. Meditation may Improve Cardiac Risk Factors in Patients with Coronary Heart Disease
8. Yoga and Meditation Comes in Aid of Iraqis to Rid of Trauma
9. Pain Tolerance Improved By Transcendental Meditation
10. Yoga and Meditation May be Helpful to Combat Chikungunya
11. Transcendental Meditation To The Rescue of Cardiac Patients
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:4/21/2017)... , ... April 21, 2017 , ... ... system, has partnered with O2X , an active lifestyle company that provides ... improving the health of firefighters, police offers, first responders, military officers and others ...
(Date:4/21/2017)... Santa Rosa, CA (PRWEB) , ... April 21, ... ... with St. Joseph Health held the much anticipated Regional Primary Care Spring Symposium ... vital role in the local medical community, offering physicians and healthcare providers an ...
(Date:4/21/2017)... City, UT (PRWEB) , ... April 21, 2017 , ... ... solutions, recently partnered with Advanced Patient Care of Utah (APCUT) and has appointed Rex ... for the next chapter of growth for our agency and our ability to provide ...
(Date:4/21/2017)... ... April 21, 2017 , ... During April 21-23, Super-Sod will join the ... festival offers entertainment for everyone — from the avid gardener to the landscape admirer ... high quality event held in a grand venue, and we are certainly looking forward ...
(Date:4/21/2017)... ... April 21, 2017 , ... National pest management association survey conducted in ... bed bug infestations over the 5-year period. In 2015 10% or US$750 million per ... bed bug infested properties. , The health and economic consequences of bed bug ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:4/18/2017)...  Astute Medical, Inc., developer of biomarkers for better ... at the 2017 National Kidney Foundation (NKF) Spring ... April 22. Physicians will present data on two biomarkers, ... for acute kidney injury (AKI) during the management of ... Elevated levels of TIMP-2 and IGFBP-7 have been ...
(Date:4/18/2017)... , April 18, 2017 Research and ... the United States Molecular Imaging Equipment and Radiopharmaceuticals Market, Forecast ... ... molecular imaging equipment revenues as well as growth in the ... will provide value to market participants that design and manufacture ...
(Date:4/18/2017)... TAMPA, Fla. , April 18, 2017 WellCare ... Health Plans, Inc. (NYSE: WCG), announced today it will award ... Kentucky to reduce tobacco use and promote smoke-free ... Center for Smoke-Free Policy conference hosted by the University of ... first time WellCare, the state,s largest Medicaid managed care organization, ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: