On-the-Spot Binaural Beats and Mindfulness Reduces the Effect of Mental Fatigue

Abstract

Mental fatigue is a psychobiological state caused by prolonged periods of demanding cognitive activity which results in slower reaction time and attention deficits. The main aim of the current study was to investigate whether two types of interventions, specifically mindfulness and music/binaural beats, could reduce the negative effects of mental fatigue on subsequent cognitive processing. Recent studies show that individuals practicing mindfulness exhibit enhanced stress-coping and cognitive performance, including improved working memory and sustained attention. There is also evidence suggesting that using binaural beats increases sustained attention. To explore the influence of mindfulness and music on mentally fatigued individuals, four groups were recruited: a novice mindfulness group (n = 22), an experienced mindfulness group (n = 24), a music/binaural beats group (n = 23) and a control group (n = 21). The participants completed 5 phases of testing on the same day. Phase 1 consisted of completion of the BRUMS and a measurement of mind wandering using the SART. Phase 2 consisted of an induced state of mental fatigue using the 90-min AX-CPT. Phase 3 consisted of another BRUMS completion. Subjects were subsequently asked to complete one of the two 12 min. on-the-spot interventions (mindfulness or binaural beats). Phase 5 consisted of another completion of the SART. The results showed that the music group and the experienced mindfulness group were least affected by mental fatigue and its effect on the SART %NoGo success rate, whereas performance of the control group and the novice mindfulness group was reduced by mental fatigue. The findings are discussed in terms of using music/binaural beats to enhance cognitive control, with similar effects as mindfulness.

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Funding

This work is supported by a grant from Velliv (ID 18-0019) (U.K.)

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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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Axelsen, J.L., Kirk, U. & Staiano, W. On-the-Spot Binaural Beats and Mindfulness Reduces the Effect of Mental Fatigue. J Cogn Enhanc 4, 31–39 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41465-019-00162-3

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Keywords

  • Mental fatigue
  • Binaural beats
  • Mindfulness
  • Cognitive performance