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On-the-Spot Binaural Beats and Mindfulness Reduces Behavioral Markers of Mind Wandering

Abstract

The experience of a wandering mind is common for most people, and it has been estimated that mind wandering occupies up to 46% of our thoughts during the day. There are recent studies showing entrainment effects leading to a decrease in mind wandering. However, it is not clear if there are state-dependent interventions that may provide a reduction of mind wandering. The main aim of the current study was to investigate in a university student population whether laboratory evidence of mind wandering can be reduced through two on-the-spot interventions; mindfulness meditation for 15 min (n = 25) and binaural auditory beats for a duration of 15 min (n = 27) relative to a no-intervention control group (n = 25). We measured levels of mind wandering at baseline across the three groups and after the 15-min interventions using the Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART). The results indicate that a short-term or on-the-spot mindfulness session for 15 min is successful in significantly reducing laboratory evidence of mind wandering. However, more surprisingly, we found that 15 min of auditory binaural beats also lead to a significant reduction of mind wandering, whereas the control group did not result in differences. We did not observe differences in mind wandering across the three groups at baseline or differences in stress levels across groups. The present outcomes are discussed in terms of the potential of using auditory binaural beats relative to mindfulness as a way to enhance cognitive control.

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Correspondence to Ulrich Kirk.

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

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Kirk, U., Wieghorst, A., Nielsen, C.M. et al. On-the-Spot Binaural Beats and Mindfulness Reduces Behavioral Markers of Mind Wandering. J Cogn Enhanc 3, 186–192 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41465-018-0114-z

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Keywords

  • Mindfulness
  • Binaural beats
  • Mind wandering