Advertisement

Journal of Cognitive Enhancement

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 172–181 | Cite as

Online-based Mindfulness Training Reduces Behavioral Markers of Mind Wandering

  • Ida H Bennike
  • Anders Wieghorst
  • Ulrich KirkEmail author
Original Article

Abstract

It is estimated that people spend almost half their waking hours lost in stimulus-independent thought, or mind wandering, which in turn has been shown to negatively impact well-being. This has sparked a rise in the number of cognitive training platforms that aim to boost executive functioning, yet it is unclear whether mind wandering can be reduced through online training. The current study aimed to investigate whether behavioral markers of mind wandering can be reduced through two short-term online-based interventions: mindfulness meditation and brain training. Using a randomized controlled design, we assigned one group of participants to 30 days of mindfulness training (n = 54) and another to 30 days of brain training (n = 41). Mind wandering and dispositional mindfulness were assessed pre- and post-intervention via the Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART) and the Mindful Attention to Awareness Scale (MAAS), respectively. We found significant reductions in mind wandering and significant increases in dispositional mindfulness in the mindfulness training group but not the brain training group. A lack of any significant change in the brain training group may be driven by methodological limitations such as self-report bias. These results indicate that short online mindfulness-based interventions may be effective in reducing mind wandering.

Keywords

Mindfulness Mind wandering Cognitive training 

References

  1. Bishop, S. R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S., Carlson, L., Anderson, N. D., Carmody, J., et al. (2004). Mindfulness: a proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11(3), 230–241. doi: 10.1093/clipsy/bph077.Google Scholar
  2. Borness, C., Proudfoot, J., Crawford, J., & Valenzuela, M. (2013). Putting brain training to the test in the workplace: a randomized, blinded, multisite, active-controlled trial. PloS One, 8(3), 1–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(4), 822–848.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Carmody, J., & Baer, R. A. (2008). Relationships between mindfulness practice and levels of mindfulness, medical and psychological symptoms and well-being in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 31(1), 23–33. doi: 10.1007/s10865-007-9130-7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Cheyne, J. A., Solman, G. J. F., Carriere, J. S. A., & Smilek, D. (2009). Anatomy of an error: a bidirectional state model of task engagement/disengagement and attention-related errors. Cognition, 111, 98–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gopher, D., Weil, M., & Bareket, T. (1994). Transfer of skill from a computer game trainer to flight. Human Factors, 36(3), 387–405.Google Scholar
  7. Grossman, P., Dam, N., & Van, T. (2011). Mindfulness, by any other name...: Trials and tribulations of sati in western psychology and science. Contemporary Buddhism, 12(1), 219–239. doi: 10.1080/14639947.2011.564841.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hardy, J. L., Nelson, R. A., Thomason, M. E., Sternberg, D. A., Katovich, K., Farzin, F., & Scanlon, M. (2015). Enhancing cognitive abilities with comprehensive training: a large, online, randomized, active-controlled trial. PloS One, 10(9), e0134467. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0134467.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Helton, W. S., Kern, R. P., & Walker, D. R. (2009). Conscious thought and the sustained attention to response task. Consciousness and Cognition, 18(3), 600–607. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2009.06.002.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Jaeggi, S. M., Buschkuehl, M., Jonides, J., & Perrig, W. J. (2008). Improving fluid intelligence with training on working memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(19), 6829–6833.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. Jha, A. P., Morrison, A. B., Dainer-Best, J., Parker, S., Rostrup, N., & Stanley, E. A. (2015). Minds ‘at attention’: mindfulness training curbs attentional lapses in military cohorts. PloS One, 10(2), e0116889.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  12. Kabat-zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-based interventions in context: past, present, and future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10(2), 144–156. doi: 10.1093/clipsy/bpg016.Google Scholar
  13. Kabat-Zinn, J., Massion, A. O., Kristeller, J., Peterson, L. G., Fletcher, K. E., Pbert, L., et al. (1992). Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 149, 936–943.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Killingsworth, M. A., & Gilbert, D. T. (2010). A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science, 330(6006), 932.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Kirk, U., Gu, X., Harvey, A. H., Fonagy, P., & Montague, P. R. (2014). Mindfulness training modulates value signals in ventromedial prefrontal cortex through input from insular cortex. NeuroImage, 100, 254–262.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. Klingberg, T. (2010). Training and plasticity of working memory. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 14(7), 317–324. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2010.05.002.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Levinson, D. B., Stoll, E. L., Kindy, S. D., Merry, H. L., & Davidson, R. J. (2014). A mind you can count on: validating breath counting as a behavioral measure of mindfulness. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1–10. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Morrison, A. B., Goolsarran, M., Rogers, S. L., & Jha, A. P. (2014). Taming a wandering attention: short-form mindfulness training in student cohorts. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7, 897.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. Mrazek, M. D., Smallwood, J., & Schooler, J. W. (2012). Mindfulness and mind-wandering: finding convergence through opposing constructs. Emotion, 12(3), 442–448. doi: 10.1037/a0026678.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Mrazek, M. D., Franklin, M. S., Phillips, D. T., Baird, B., & Schooler, J. W. (2013). Mindfulness training improves working memory capacity and GRE performance while reducing mind wandering. Psychological Science, 24, 776–781.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Owen, A. M., Hampshire, A., Grahn, J. A., Stenton, R., Dajani, S., Burns, A. S., et al. (2010). Putting brain training to the test. Nature, 465(7299), 775–778.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. Robertson, I. H., Manly, T., Andrade, J., Baddeley, B. T., & Yiend, J. (1997). Oops: Performance correlates of everyday attentional failures in traumatic brain injured and normal subjects. Neuropsychologia, 35, 747–758.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Shipstead, Z., Redick, T. S., & Engle, R. W. (2012). Is working memory training effective? Psychological Bulletin, 138(4), 628–654. doi: 10.1037/a0027473.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Slagter, H. A., Lutz, A., Greischar, L. L., Francis, A. D., Nieuwenhuis, S., Davis, J. M., & Davidson, R. J. (2007). Mental training affects distribution of limited brain resources. PLoS Biology, 5(6), e138.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  25. Smallwood, J., & Schooler, J. W. (2006). The restless mind. Psychological Bulletin, 132(6), 946–958. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.132.6.946.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Wahbeh, H., Svalina, M. N., & Oken, B. S. (2014). Group, one-on-one, or Internet? Preferences for mindfulness meditation delivery format and their predictors. Open Medicine Journal, 1, 66–74. doi: 10.2174/1874220301401010066.Group.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark

Personalised recommendations