The Influence of a Brief Mindfulness Exercise on Encoding of Novel Words in Female College Students
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Based on research associating mindfulness with improvements in well-being, attention, and memory processes, brief mindfulness exercises may be helpful in enhancing the encoding of novel semantic information. We used a Swahili-English word pair association task to examine whether engaging in a brief mindfulness exercise enhanced the encoding of Swahili-English word pairs, thus improving long-term recall. Female undergraduate students at a midwestern university (N = 136) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: engaging in a 20-min body scan meditation, a 45-min body scan meditation, or a no-treatment control group prior to learning Swahili-English word pairs. Analyses of variance showed significantly more words recalled by members of the 20-and 45-min groups compared to members of the control group. A separate analysis of variance showed no difference in the level of state mindfulness across groups. However, a follow-up analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) controlling for symptoms of depression and anxiety, attention problems, and trait mindfulness showed that compared to the control group, self-reported mean levels of state mindfulness were significantly higher after the meditation exercise for the 20-min group, with no difference between the control and 45-min group. No group differences were found across the three groups on changes in self-report ratings of state anxiety.
KeywordsMindfulness Attention Learning Long-term memory
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