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Longitudinal evidence for differential plasticity of cognitive functions: Mindfulness-based mental training enhances working memory, but not perceptual discrimination, response inhibition, and metacognition

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Böckler,  Anne
Research Group Social Stress and Family Health, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Singer,  Tania
Social Neuroscience Lab, Max Planck Society;

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Böckler, A., & Singer, T. (2021). Longitudinal evidence for differential plasticity of cognitive functions: Mindfulness-based mental training enhances working memory, but not perceptual discrimination, response inhibition, and metacognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. doi:10.1037/xge0001143.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-D03E-7
Abstract
Recent decades have witnessed an increasing interest in effects of meditation-based interventions on the improvement of cognitive abilities, ranging from perceptual discrimination to metacognition. However, intervention studies face numerous conceptual and methodological challenges, and results are fairly inconsistent. In a large-scale 9-month mental training study, we investigated differential changes in different facets of cognitive functioning after training of three distinct types of mental training modules focusing on attention, socioemotional, and sociocognitive skills. We found enhanced working memory performance specifically after the mindfulness-based attention module, an effect that was positively related to training intensity, but not paralleled by reduced effects of encoding time, memory load, or proactive interference. By contrast, none of the training modules altered perceptual threshold, response inhibition, or metacognition. These findings provide benchmarks for effect-sizes in training-induced change and specify the most promising practice type as well as the underlying processes for improvements in working memory performance.