Intensive meditation training improves perceptual discrimination and sustained attention.

Katherine A. MacLean, Emilio Ferrer, Stephen R. Aichele, David A. Bridwell, Anthony P. Zanesco, Tonya L. Jacobs, Brandon G. King, Erika L. Rosenberg, Baljinder K. Sahdra, Phillip R. Shaver, B. Alan Wallace, George R Mangun, Clifford D. Saron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

276 Scopus citations

Abstract

The ability to focus one's attention underlies success in many everyday tasks, but voluntary attention cannot be sustained for extended periods of time. In the laboratory, sustained-attention failure is manifest as a decline in perceptual sensitivity with increasing time on task, known as the vigilance decrement. We investigated improvements in sustained attention with training (approximately 5 hr/day for 3 months), which consisted of meditation practice that involved sustained selective attention on a chosen stimulus (e.g., the participant's breath). Participants were randomly assigned either to receive training first (n = 30) or to serve as waiting-list controls and receive training second (n = 30). Training produced improvements in visual discrimination that were linked to increases in perceptual sensitivity and improved vigilance during sustained visual attention. Consistent with the resource model of vigilance, these results suggest that perceptual improvements can reduce the resource demand imposed by target discrimination and thus make it easier to sustain voluntary attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)829-839
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS
Volume21
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Intensive meditation training improves perceptual discrimination and sustained attention.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this