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The Effects of a Brief Mindfulness Exercise on Executive Attention and Recognition Memory

Abstract

We examined the effects of a brief (10 min) single-session mindfulness exercise on state mindfulness, executive attention, and recognition memory, and in an exploratory manner, investigated if these effects are moderated by trait mindfulness. Participants were randomly assigned to a brief mindfulness exercise condition, an attention exercise control condition, or an arithmetic exercise control condition. The Emotional Stroop task and a surprise old/new recognition test were used to measure executive attention and recognition memory, respectively. A measure of trait mindfulness was included as a moderator variable in regression models that predicted state mindfulness or task performance from exercise condition. Our results indicate that a brief single-session mindfulness exercise can increase levels of state mindfulness compared to an arithmetic exercise but not to an attention exercise. While subject to certain limitations, we found that trait mindfulness can moderate the efficacy of the mindfulness exercise at reducing emotional interference on a task of executive attention. Our results underscore the complex relationship between mindfulness and cognitive processes.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Taryn Jackson for her help with the audio recordings.

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Correspondence to Nicholas Watier.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Watier, N., Dubois, M. The Effects of a Brief Mindfulness Exercise on Executive Attention and Recognition Memory. Mindfulness 7, 745–753 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0514-z

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Keywords

  • Mindfulness
  • Attention
  • Emotional Stroop
  • Recognition memory