Posted 05.24.2017 | by AMRA
When people aren’t focused on what they’re currently doing, but are instead thinking about the past, or future, or lost in fantasy, they’re said to be “mind wandering.” Psychologists estimate that people spend almost half their waking hours mind wandering, and that they are less happy when doing so. Can on-line programs intending to support attentional capacities help people decrease mind wandering?
In a randomized, controlled study, Bennike et al. [Journal of Cognitive Enhancement] compared the ability of an online mindfulness training program and an online cognitive training program to improve a behavioral measure of sustained attention.
The researchers randomly assigned 137 healthy adult volunteers (average age = 42 years) to either a 4-week mindfulness training using the Headspace application, or a 4-week cognitive training using the Lumosity application. Headspace participants used the online application to practice daily guided meditations that increased in duration over time, starting at 10 minutes daily and ending at 20 minutes daily. Luminosity participants played online games designed to improve memory, attention, cognitive flexibility, processing speed, and problem solving. Lumosity users were instructed to engage in cognitive training for the same durations that Headspace users meditated.
Twenty-one participants in each group were excluded from final data analysis either because they failed to show up for post-testing, or because they were discovered to have had prior mindfulness training.
All participants engaged in a Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART) before and after training. Participants were shown a series of digits on a computer screen, and told to quickly press the space bar whenever they saw a number, except for the number 3. The number 3 was presented only 10% of the time, […]