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Wednesday, June 22 • 16:45 - 18:00
POSTER.38 - Mindfulness Meditation in Education: The Effect of Brief, Online Mindfulness Meditation on Working Memory Capacity and Lecture Comprehension

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One important predictor of academic performance is the ability to allocate attentional resources effectively, best captured by measures of working memory capacity (WMC; Engle, 2002). Increasing WMC has been shown to improve performance across a wide range of cognitive domains such as reading comprehension and note-taking (Cowan, 2012). WMC may be diminished during periods of anxiety (Eysenck & Calvo, 1992) and mind wandering (Mooneyham & Schooler, 2013), which are pervasive amongst undergraduate students (Szpunar et. al., 2013; Regehr, Glancy & Pitts, 2012).

The present study explored the impact of a four-day, online mindfulness meditation training program on working memory capacity, state and trait anxiety, mind wandering, and lecture comprehension in undergraduate students. 47 undergraduate students were randomly assigned to a mindfulness group, a relaxation control group or a second control group that listened to an excerpt from the Hobbit. Contrary to previous literature (Mrazeck et. al., 2013; Zeidan et. al., 2010), we were not able to observe a difference between groups in WMC, mind wandering, or anxiety. Surprisingly, the audiobook control group showed increased lecture comprehension and decreased mind-wandering.

 In this session, we will present data collected through this experiment and make recommendations about how future studies may modify meditation training programs to improve performance outcomes.

References:

Cowan, N. (2012). Working memory capacity. New York, New York, USA: Psychology Press.

Engle, R. W. (2002). Working memory capacity as executive attention. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 11(1), 19-23.

Eysenck, M. W., & Calvo, M. G. (1992). Anxiety and performance: The processing efficiency theory. Cognition & Emotion, 6(6), 409-434.

Mooneyham, B. W., & Schooler, J. W. (2013). The costs and benefits of mind-wandering: A review. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 67(1), 11-18. doi: 10.1037/a0031569

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(5), 776-781. doi:10.1177/0956797612459659.

Regehr, C., Glancy, D. & Pitts, A. (2012). Interventions to reduce stress in university students: A review and meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 148, 1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2012.11.026

Szpunar, K. K., Moulton, S.T., & Schacter, D.L.. (2013). Mind wandering and education: From the classroom to online learning. Frontiers in Psychology, 4 (1), 495, 1-7. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00495. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00495.

Zeidan, F., Johnson, S. K., Diamond, B. J., David, Z., & Goolkasian, P. (2010). Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training. Consciousness and Cognition, 19(2), 597-605. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2010.03.014

Presenters
SK

Samiksha Kaul

Samiksha Kaul was an undergraduate student at McMaster University. She worked with Amy Pachai, Dr. Ayesha Khan, Anisa Morava and Schevene Singh on the Mindfulness Project as part of her undergraduate thesis.
AM

Anisa Morava

Anisa Morava is an undergraduate student at McMaster University. She worked with Amy Pachai, Dr. Ayesha Khan, Samiksha Kaul and Schevene Singh on the Mindfulness Project as part of an independent research project course.
SS

Schevene Singh

Schevene Sigh is an undergraduate student at McMaster University. He worked with Amy Pachai, Dr. Ayesha Khan, Anisa Morava and Samiksha Kaul on the Mindfulness Project as part of an independent research project course.

Additional Authors
AP

Amy Pachai

Amy Pachai is a PhD student in Dr. Joe Kim’s lab in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behavior at McMaster. Her research interests focus on studying the cognitive mechanisms involved in mind wandering to better understand factors that affect the how often mind wandering occurs, especially during online lectures.
AK

Ayesha Khan

Dr. Ayesha Khan is an Assistant Professor at McMaster with the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behavior. Her research interests explore enhancement of undergraduate student experience through experiential education and ways through which social loafing can be decreased in group work.


Wednesday June 22, 2016 16:45 - 18:00
Atrium, Physics & Astronomy Building Western University

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