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J Altern Complement Med. 2007 Jul-Aug;13(6):651-7.

Effects of level of meditation experience on attentional focus: is the efficiency of executive or orientation networks improved?

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1
Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California, United States.

Abstract

The present investigation examined the contributions of specific attentional networks to long-term trait effects of meditation. It was hypothesized that meditation could improve the efficiency of executive processing (inhibits prepotent/incorrect responses) or orientational processing (orients to specific objects in the attentional field). Participants (50 meditators and 10 controls) were given the Stroop (measures executive attention) and Global-Local Letters (measures orientational attention) tasks. Results showed that meditation experience was associated with reduced interference on the Stroop task (p < 0.03), in contrast with a lack of effect on interference in the Global-Local Letters task. This suggests that meditation produces long-term increases in the efficiency of the executive attentional network (anterior cingulate/prefrontal cortex) but no effect on the orientation network (parietal systems). The amount of time participants spent meditating each day, rather than the total number of hours of meditative practice over their lifetime, was negatively correlated with interference on the Stroop task (r = -0.31, p < 0.005).

PMID:
17718648
DOI:
10.1089/acm.2007.7022
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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