Can Mindfulness Meditation Prevent Stress Induced Cognitive Impairments?

Grant Winners

  • Jonathan B. Banks Ph.D. – Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences
  • Marlayna Ripley, BS – Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences

Dean

  • Don Rosenblum, Ph.D. – Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Award Winners

Experiencing stressful events is common in daily life. Stressful events range from everyday stressors, including traffic delays or conflicts with coworkers, to more traumatic stressors, including death of loved ones or being a victim of a crime. Stress has negative impact on a variety of psychological and physical health outcomes. Therefore, interventions that reduce the negative consequences of stress are of interest. Mindfulness meditation refers to the practice of meditation that focuses on achieving a present-moment awareness of any sensations, thoughts, or emotions, without judgment or attempts to suppress the thoughts or emotion. Scientific interest in mindfulness meditation has increased in the last decade due to the beneficial impact on cognitive and emotional functioning. Despite this interest, no studies have examined the impact of a two-week at home intervention in a college population using proper control groups. The current study will examine the impact of an at home intervention on working memory, sustained attention, mind wandering, and susceptibility to stress. Ninety undergraduates from Nova Southeastern University will be recruited for the study. Participants will be assigned to a mindfulness meditation, active control, or a wait-list control condition. Participants will complete baseline measures of working memory, sustained attention, and mind wandering. Participants in the mindfulness meditation and the active control conditions will receive an audio recording of the intervention with instructions to listen to the recording 8 times over a two week period. All participants will return to the lab two weeks after their first session to complete measures of working memory, sustained attention, and mind wandering. Participants will then complete the stressor task followed by a working memory and sustained attention tasks. This study will allow for a better understanding of how mindfulness mediation impacts working memory, sustained attention and how it may reduce the impact of a stressor.