Meditation stimulates mind like coffee

Thursday, April 15, 2010

WASHINGTON - Some need regular amounts of coffee or other chemical enhancers to be cognitively sharper. A new study suggests a brief bit of meditation would prepare us just as well.

Cognitive activity refers to getting involved in a conscious intellectual task such as thinking, reasoning or remembering.

New research suggests that the mind may be easier to cognitively train than had been previously believed.

The experiment involved 63 student volunteers, 49 of whom completed the experiment.

Psychologists studying the effects of a meditation technique known as “mindfulness” found that meditation-trained participants showed a significant improvement in their critical cognitive skills (and performed significantly higher in cognitive tests than a control group) after only four days of training for only 20 minutes each day.

“In the behavioural test results, what we are seeing is something that is somewhat comparable to results that have been documented after far more extensive training,” said Fadel Zeidan, a post-doctoral researcher at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

He is a former doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where the research was conducted.

“Simply stated, the profound improvements that we found after just four days of meditation training - are really surprising,” Zeidan noted.

“It goes to show that the mind is, in fact, easily changeable and highly influenced, especially by meditation.”

The study appears in the April 2 issue of Consciousness and Cognition.

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