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Prog Brain Res. 2019;244:137-163. doi: 10.1016/bs.pbr.2018.10.019. Epub 2019 Jan 17.

Short-term mindful breath awareness training improves inhibitory control and response monitoring.

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Universidad de Granada, Centro de investigación Mente, Cerebro y Comportamiento (CIMCYC) and Dept. Psicología Experimental, Granada, Spain.
University of Liverpool, Department of Psychological Sciences, Liverpool, United Kingdom.
Liverpool John Moores University, Research Centre for Brain and Behaviour, Liverpool, United Kingdom. Electronic address:


Mindfulness meditation is thought to lead to positive changes in cognitive and affective functioning. However, the mechanisms underlying these changes are not well understood. One reason for this is that so far only very few studies considered the effects of specific meditation practices. We thus investigated the effects of engaging in one specific form of mindfulness meditation for a brief time period on behavioral and neural indicators of inhibitory control and metacognition. Performance on the Go/No-Go task and concurrent neural activity (EEG) was assessed before and after participants engaged in 3 weeks of mindful breath awareness meditation. Compared to a waitlist control group, meditation training enhanced the N2 event-related potential in No-Go trials and the error-related negativity (ERN) after error responses. As these two components reflect conflict and response monitoring, respectively, our results support the notion that mindfulness meditation improves metacognitive processes. The changes in the ERN were correlated with the accumulated amount of meditation time, highlighting the importance of meditation practice. Furthermore, meditation improved a behavioral marker of impulsive responding, indicating the relevance of mindfulness-based approaches for supporting health-related behaviors that are associated with deficits in impulsive control, such as substance abuse or over-eating. This study demonstrated that investigating one particular meditation practice rather than complex mindfulness-based interventions can contribute to a deeper understanding of mindfulness meditation mechanisms.


Error-related negativity; Event-related potentials; Impulsivity; Meditation; Meta-awareness; Mindful breath awareness training

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