Prior Meditation Practice Modulates Performance and Strategy Use in Convergent- and Divergent-Thinking Problems

Abstract

Scientific interest in meditation has significantly grown in the past years; however, so far, science has neglected the idea that different types of meditations may drive specific cognitive-control states. It has been shown that focused-attention (FA) and open-monitoring (OM) meditation exert specific effect on creativity; OM meditation induces a control state that promotes divergent thinking, a style of thinking that allows many new ideas to be generated, while FA meditation tends to support convergent thinking, the process of generating one possible solution to a particular problem. In the present study, by using creativity tasks tapping into convergent (compound Remote Associates Task; cRAT) and divergent thinking (Alternate Uses Task; AUT), we investigated whether this effect was modulated by prior meditation experience, by comparing a group of practitioners (n = 20) and a group of novices (n = 20). The enhancing effect of OM meditation on divergent thinking was found to be robust irrespective of prior experience. However, while solving convergent-thinking problems, practitioners used an insight strategy, as opposed to an analytical approach, significantly more often than the novices.

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Acknowledgments

The research of L.S. Colzato is supported by a Vidi grant (#452-12-001) of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).

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Correspondence to Lorenza S. Colzato.

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Colzato, L.S., Szapora, A., Lippelt, D. et al. Prior Meditation Practice Modulates Performance and Strategy Use in Convergent- and Divergent-Thinking Problems. Mindfulness 8, 10–16 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-014-0352-9

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Keywords

  • Open monitoring
  • Focused attention
  • Creativity
  • Convergent thinking
  • Divergent thinking