Can just 20 minutes of meditation increase error recognition?

November 11, 2019 - Caroline Brooks, Jason Moser, Jeff Lin

EAST LANSING, Mich. – If you are forgetful or make mistakes when in a hurry, a new study from Michigan State University – the largest of its kind to-date – found that meditation could help you to become less error prone.


The research, published in Brain Sciences, tested how open monitoring meditation – or, meditation that focuses awareness on feelings, thoughts or sensations as they unfold in one's mind and body – altered brain activity in a way that suggests increased error recognition.


“People’s interest in meditation and mindfulness is outpacing what science can prove in terms of effects and benefits,” said Jeff Lin, MSU psychology doctoral candidate and study co-author. “But it’s amazing to me that we were able to see how one session of a guided meditation can produce changes to brain activity in non-meditators.”


The findings suggest that different forms of meditation can have different neurocognitive effects and Lin explained that there is little research about how open monitoring meditation impacts error recognition.


“Some forms of meditation have you focus on a single object, commonly your breath, but open monitoring meditation is a bit different,” Lin said. “It has you tune inward and pay attention to everything going on in your mind and body. The goal is to sit quietly and pay close attention to where the mind travels without getting too caught up in the scenery.”


Lin and his MSU co-authors – William Eckerle, Ling Peng and Jason Moser – recruited more than 200 participants to test how open monitoring meditation affected how people detect and respond to errors.


The participants, who had never meditated before, were taken through a 20-minute open monitoring meditation exercise while the researchers measured brain activity through electroencephalography, or EEG. Then, they completed a computerized distraction test.  For the complete MSU Today article, click here


For the Original Research Paper, click here.