Research: CHIESA and COLLEAGUES,

Listed in Issue 211

Abstract

CHIESA and COLLEAGUES, Institute of Psychiatry, University of Bologna, Viale Carlo Pepoli 5, Bologna, Italy. albertopnl@yahoo.it  reviewed current evidence regarding the effects of Mindfulness meditation practices (MMPs) on objective measures of cognitive functions.

Background

Mindfulness meditation practices (MMPs) are a subgroup of meditation practices which are receiving growing attention.

Methodology

The present paper reviews current evidence about the effects of MMPs on objective measures of cognitive functions. Five databases were searched. Twenty three studies providing measures of attention, memory, executive functions and further miscellaneous measures of cognition were included. Fifteen were controlled or randomized controlled studies and 8 were case-control studies.

Results

Overall, reviewed studies suggested that early phases of mindfulness training, which are more concerned with the development of focused attention, could be associated with significant improvements in selective and executive attention whereas the following phases, which are characterized by an open monitoring of internal and external stimuli, could be mainly associated with improved unfocused sustained attention abilities. Additionally, MMPs could enhance working memory capacity and some executive functions. However, many of the included studies show methodological limitations and negative results have been reported as well, plausibly reflecting differences in study design, study duration and patients' populations.

Conclusion

Accordingly, even though findings here reviewed provided preliminary evidence suggesting that MMPs could enhance cognitive functions, available evidence should be considered with caution and further high quality studies investigating more standardized mindfulness meditation programs are needed.

References

Chiesa A, Calati R and Serretti A. Does mindfulness training improve cognitive abilities? A systematic review of neuropsychological findings. [Review] Clinical Psychology Review. 31(3): 449-64. Apr 2011.

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