Mindfulness meditation improves concentration and working memory

Meditations

Practicing mindfulness meditation ten minutes a day would develop concentration and working memory. Indeed, according to a recent study, meditation practiced every day could help keep the mind focused.

Peter Malinowski, an expert in neuroscience at Liverpool’s John Moores University in the UK, along with his colleagues found that meditation, even a few minutes a day, does wonders for the brain by making it more effective. His study published in Scientific Reports illustrates the benefits of mindfulness on brain capacity: meditating every day “improves the concentration and ability to keep information active in the brain, a brain function called working memory”, says the neuroscientist. This virtuous circle would help to make the brain focus more easily on certain tasks and use its working memory effortlessly.

The British scientist collaborated with colleagues at the University of Osnabrück in Germany to conduct an experiment with 34 participants in two groups. The first practiced mindfulness meditation for eight weeks at four sessions a week. At each of these sessions, the “meditators” practiced using only their breath for ten minutes. The second group, the control group, followed muscle relaxation exercises.

The 34 volunteers were subjected to the Multiple Object Tracking Task Test a few days before and after meditation or relaxation. This complex cognitive exercise consists of following two to five disks (targets) that move on a computer screen, among 16 identical disks also moving on the screen. Participants must focus on target disks without being distracted by the non-targeted discs. The brain activity of the participants was recorded thanks to an electroencephalogram (EEG).

At the end of the eight weeks, the meditation group progressed by 9% in the accuracy of tracking targets while their concentration and working memory improved. These performances were not observed in the control group subjected to relaxation exercises.

For the researchers, these results show that simple meditation, like focusing on one’s breath, is enough to train the brain network. “The same networks, repeatedly activated in the brain, become more effective. It seems that this form of meditation targets the central brain networks, interconnected brain regions that work together and play a key role in many cognitive tasks”, describes the researcher.

Eric Thomas

Eric, originally from Nigeria, currently resides in Florida and covers a wide range of topics for The talking Democrat.