Rachel Fieldhouse


Meditating could make you less error prone

Meditating could make you less error prone

Meditation has been shown to have a slew of benefits, and researchers from Michigan University have added another to the list: fixing mistakes.

The team took more than 200 participants, who had never meditated before, through a 20-minute open monitoring meditation exercise while their brain activity was being measured.

“Some forms of meditation have you focus on a single object, commonly your breath, but open monitoring meditation is different, '' said Jeff Lin, the study’s co-author.

“It has you tune inward and pay attention to everything going on in your mind and body. The goal is to sit quietly and pay close attention to where the mind travels without getting too caught up in the scenery.”

Then, the participants completed a distraction test, and were found to have an enhanced ability to notice mistakes in comparison to the group who didn’t meditate.

“The EEG (electroencephalography) can measure brain activity at the millisecond level, so we got precise measures of neural activity right after mistakes compared to correct responses,” Lin said.

“A certain neural signal occurs about half a second after an error called the error positivity, which is linked to conscious error recognition.

“We found that the strength of this signal is increased in the meditators relative to controls.”

Though meditating didn’t immediately improve actual task performance, these findings suggest that sustained meditation could have beneficial effects on performance.

“People’s interest in meditation and mindfulness is outpacing what science can prove in terms of effects and benefits,” Lin said.

“But it’s amazing to me that we were able to see how one session of a guided meditation can produce changes to brain activity in non-meditators.”

Lin said it was encouraging to see public enthusiasm for mindfulness and meditation, but there was still a lot more to do to understand its benefits and how it works.

“It’s time we start looking at it through a more rigorous lens.”

The study was published in Brain Science.

Image: Getty Images

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