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Nat Hum Behav. 2019 Jul;3(7):746-757. doi: 10.1038/s41562-019-0611-9. Epub 2019 Jun 3.

Closed-loop digital meditation improves sustained attention in young adults.

Author information

1
Department of Neurology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA. david.ziegler@ucsf.edu.
2
Neuroscape, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA. david.ziegler@ucsf.edu.
3
Weill Institute for Neurosciences & Kavli Institute for Fundamental Neuroscience, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA. david.ziegler@ucsf.edu.
4
Department of Neurology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.
5
Neuroscape, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.
6
Weill Institute for Neurosciences & Kavli Institute for Fundamental Neuroscience, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.
7
Department of Psychology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA.
8
Department of Psychiatry, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, CA, USA.
9
Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.
10
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Woodacre, CA, USA.
11
Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.
12
Department of Neurology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA. adam.gazzaley@ucsf.edu.
13
Neuroscape, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA. adam.gazzaley@ucsf.edu.
14
Weill Institute for Neurosciences & Kavli Institute for Fundamental Neuroscience, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA. adam.gazzaley@ucsf.edu.
15
Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA. adam.gazzaley@ucsf.edu.
16
Department of Physiology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA. adam.gazzaley@ucsf.edu.

Abstract

Attention is a fundamental cognitive process that is critical for essentially all aspects of higher-order cognition and real-world activities. Younger generations have deeply embraced information technology and multitasking in their personal lives, school and the workplace, creating myriad challenges to their attention. While improving sustained attention in healthy young adults would be beneficial, enhancing this ability has proven notoriously difficult in this age group. Here we show that 6 weeks of engagement with a meditation-inspired, closed-loop software program (MediTrain) delivered on mobile devices led to gains in both sustained attention and working memory in healthy young adults. These improvements were associated with positive changes in key neural signatures of attentional control (frontal theta inter-trial coherence and parietal P3b latency), as measured by electroencephalography. Our findings suggest the utility of delivering aspects of the ancient practice of focused-attention meditation in a modern, technology-based approach and its benefits on enhancing sustained attention.

PMID:
31160812
DOI:
10.1038/s41562-019-0611-9

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