The efficacy of mindfulness meditation (MM) relative to prefrontal hemoencephalography (Fp-HEG) neurofeedback (NFB) for enhancing attentional functioning and increasing Fp-HEG has not been studied. Moreover, few measures exist for assessing attentional capacities during MM. In the present study, we therefore randomized participants to MM (n = 23), NFB (n = 26), or a passive counting backward control condition (n = 21) and measured Fp-HEG at the frontal pole during a pretreatment baseline, during each of the 15-min interventions (MM, NFB, or control) and during subsequent performance of the Attentional Network Test (ANT). Meditation Breath Attention Scores (MBAS) were also assessed in the MM group as a measure of individual differences in the ability to sustain attention to breathing (i.e., to disengage from mind wandering) during MM, and a comparable Counting Backward Attention Score (CBAS) was assessed in the counting control group. Relative to baseline, Fp-HEG was reduced during interventions, as well as during ANT performance, across groups, with no significant differences between groups. NFB participants evidenced improved ANT accuracy relative to control, with MM not differing from NFB or control. Increased accuracy during the ANT was correlated with increasing Fp-HEG across groups. Within the MM group, increased MBAS were also associated with increased ANT accuracy as well as slower ANT orienting. CBAS were marginally higher than MBAS, indicating that sustaining attention to backward counting may have been easier than sustaining attention to breath sensation. We conclude that a single session of Fp-HEG may be effective in improving attention whereas the benefits of MM may require multiple sessions. We also infer that mindful concentration during meditation may be associated with general attentional capacities. Replication and longitudinal extension in larger samples are needed.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Bowie, C. R., & Harvey, P. D. (2006). Administration and interpretation of the Trail Making Test. Nature Protocols, 1(5), 2277–2281.
Cahn, B. R., & Polich, J. (2006). Meditation states and traits: EEG, ERP, and neuroimaging studies. Psychological Bulletin, 132(2), 180–211.
Chiesa, A., Calati, R., & Serretti, A. (2011). Does mindfulness training improve cognitive abilities? A systematic review of neuropsychological findings. Clinical Psychology Review, 31, 449–464. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2010.11.003.
Demos, J. (2005). Getting started with neurofeedback. New York: W. W. Norton.
Ebert, J., & Sedlmeier, P. (2012). The effects of mindfulness meditation: a meta-analysis. Mindfulness, 3, 174–189. doi:10.1007/s12671-012-0101-x.
Fan, J., McCandliss, B. D., Sommer, T., Raz, A., & Posner, M. I. (2002). Testing the efficiency and independence of attentional networks. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 14(3), 340–347.
Frewen, P. A., Evans, E. M., Maraj, N., Dozois, D. J., & Partridge, K. (2008). Letting go: mindfulness and negative automatic thinking. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 32(6), 758–774.
Frewen, P. A., Lundberg, E., MacKinley, J., & Wrath, A. (2011). Assessment of response to mindfulness meditation: meditation breath attention scores in association with subjective measures of state and trait mindfulness and difficulty letting go of depressive cognition. Mindfulness, 2, 254–269.
Frewen, P. A., Unholzer, F., Logie-Hagan, K. R.-J., & MacKinley, J. D. (2014). Meditation Breath Attention Scores (MBAS): Test–retest reliability and sensitivity to repeated practice. Mindfulness, 5, 161–169. doi:10.1007/s12671-012-0161-y.
Holzel, B. K., Lazar, S. W., Gard, T., Schuman-Olivier, Z., Vago, D. R., & Ott, U. (2011). How does mindfulness meditation work? Proposing mechanisms of action from a conceptual and neural perspective. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6, 537–559.
Jha, A. P., Krompinger, J., & Baime, M. J. (2007). Mindfulness training modifies subsystems of attention. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 7, 109–119.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go there you are. New York: Hyperion.
Lau, M. A., Bishop, S. R., Segal, Z. V., Buis, T., Anderson, N. D., Carlson, L., Shapiro, S., & Carmody, J. (2006). The Toronto Mindfulness Scale: development and validation. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 62(12), 1445–1467.
Posner, M. I. (1994). Attention: the mechanisms of consciousness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 91, 7398–7403.
Posner, M. I., & Raichle, M. E. (1994). Images of mind. New York: Scientific American Library.
Reitan, R. M. (1979). Manual for administration of neuropsychological test battery for adults and children. Tucson, AZ: Neuropsychology Laboratory.
Ros, T., Theberge, J., Frewen, P. A., Kluetsch, R., Densmore, M., Calhoun, V. D., & Lanius, R. A. (2012). Mind over chatter: plastic up-regulation of the fMRI salience network directly after EEG neurofeedback. NeuroImage, 65, 324–335.
Serra-Sala, M., Timoneda-Gallart, C., & Pérez-Álvarez, F. (2012). Evaluating prefrontal activation and its relationship with cognitive and emotional processes by means of hemoencephalography (HEG). Journal of Neurotherapy, 16(3), 183–195.
Shacham, S. (1983). A shortened version of the Profile of Mood States. Journal of Personality Assessment, 47(3), 305–306.
Shum, D. H., McFarland, K. A., & Bain, J. D. (1990). Construct validity of eight tests of attention: comparison of normal and closed head injured samples. Clinical Neuropsychologist, 4(2), 151–162.
Tang, Y. Y., Ma, Y., Wang, J., Fan, Y., Feng, S., Lu, Q., Yu, Q., Sui, D., Rothbart, M. K., Fan, M., & Posner, M. I. (2007). Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(43), 17152–17156.
Toomim, H., & Carmen, J. (1999). Hemoencephalography (HEG). Biofeedback, 27(4), 10–14.
Toomim, H., Marsh, R., Mize, W., Kozlowski, G. P., Kwong, P. C., Kimball, M., & Remond, A. (2004). Intentional increase of cerebral blood oxygenation using hemoencephalography (HEG): an efficient brain exercise therapy. Journal of Neurotherapy, 8(3), 5–21.
Van den Hurk, P. A., Giommi, F., Gielen, S. C., Speckens, A. E., & Barendregt, H. P. (2010). Greater efficiency in attentional processing related to mindfulness meditation. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63(6), 1168–1180.
About this article
Cite this article
Lai, C., MacNeil, B. & Frewen, P. A Comparison of the Attentional Effects of Single-Session Mindfulness Meditation and Fp-HEG Neurofeedback in Novices. Mindfulness 6, 1012–1020 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-014-0347-6
- Meditation Breath Attention Scores (MBAS)