Effect of one-session focused attention meditation on the working memory capacity of meditation novices: A functional near-infrared spectroscopy study

Brain Behav. 2021 Aug 3. doi: 10.1002/brb3.2288. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: Previous studies have revealed that one-session focused attention meditation (FAM) can improve top-down attention control, which is one of the factors of working memory capacity (WMC). In addition, FAM shares various neural substrates, including the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), with WMC. Thus, we hypothesized that one-session FAM would improve WMC by activating the DLPFC evoked by the top-down attention control. In this study, we examined whether FAM modified WMC in individuals with little to no meditation experience.

METHODS: The participants were randomly assigned to either the FAM group (N = 13) or the control group (N = 17) who engaged in random thinking (i.e., mind-wandering). Before and after each 15-min intervention, the participants’ WMC was measured according to the total number of correct answers in the Reading Span Test. During each intervention, functional near-infrared spectroscopy was employed to measure the blood flow in the participants’ DLPFC and determine the top-down attention control effect.

RESULTS: In the FAM group, WMC increased, and the bilateral DLPFC was activated during the intervention. As for the control group, WMC decreased after the intervention, and the bilateral DLPFC was not activated during the intervention. A correlation was also found among all participants between the increase in WMC and the activation of the bilateral DLPFC.

CONCLUSION: The study findings suggest that top-down attention control during FAM can activate the bilateral DLPFC and increase WMC among meditation novices.

PMID:34343414 | DOI:10.1002/brb3.2288

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