We will be provided with an authorization token (please note: passwords are not shared with us) and will sync your accounts for you. The editor and reviewers' affiliations are the latest provided on their Loop research profiles and may not reflect their situation at time of review. Mindfulness originated in the Buddhist tradition as a way of cultivating clarity of thought. Despite its origins as a way of cultivating clarity of thought, among the collection of studies on mindfulness conducted in recent years, few have been concerned with the link between mindfulness and thinking skills in typically developing individuals. Though there is overwhelming consensus that CT skills should be cultivated in educational and occupational settings, attempts to converge on an operational definition of CT have been far from unanimous (Dwyer et al., 2014). As such, the predominant two-component operationalisation of mindfulness implies both monitoring and control, skills which are inherently self-regulatory (Bishop et al., 2004). In cognitive models of self-regulation, the mobilization of self-regulatory resources is characterized by the effective operation of the EFs that support and govern working memory. A number of studies have reported direct effects of mindfulness on specific components of EF. Studies have also reported a positive link between mindfulness and the ability to switch between thought-action representations in working memory. Though no studies have examined the effects of mindfulness practice on working memory updating specifically, the effects of mindfulness on working memory capacity has been examined. Having presented evidence for the claim that mindfulness broadly supports self-regulation and that a key mechanism underlying this effect may be the enhancement of EF, the link between self-regulatory processes, EFs, and CT will now be discussed. In light of the available evidence, several more specific predictions can be made about how components of mindfulness, EF, and CT are related. In line with the advent of producing SL experiences in the lab, the participants employed in the present study are long-term mindfulness meditation practitioners. MEG recordings were conducted with a whole-head, 248-channel magnetometer array (4-D Neuroimaging, Magnes 3600 WH) in a magnetically-shielded room. In order to level the number of trials for all participants and conditions, the first 32 of the remaining epochs were marked as the data for further sensor-level analyses.
Localization was performed for the frequency bands which evidenced significant PSC in the sensor-level data. The practice of meditation and its effect on cognition and health is receiving increased attention in the mainstream science literature. Improvements in attention and cognitive control abilities are not limited to meditators who are adept.
One function that relies primarily on ACC-related neural processes is monitoring performance for conflict and errors. A second component of the ERP associated with error-related performance monitoring is the post-error positivity or error positivity (Pe).
In the first study of error-related performance monitoring and mindfulness meditation, Teper and Inzlicht (2013) showed that expert meditators have increased ERN amplitude relative to controls that was related to measures of emotional acceptance.
If there are emotion-based changes in error-related performance monitoring, it would be beneficial to understand if these effects are only present in long-term meditators or if short-term meditation affects these same error-related processes.
Meditation appears to impact general physiological functioning via pathways connecting the ACC and the autonomic nervous system (Tang et al., (2009). In the current study, we tested the hypotheses that a brief mindfulness intervention would reduce blood pressure and improve the cognitive control function of performance monitoring in novice meditators. The Institutional Review Board at Brigham Young University approved all study procedures and the authors do not declare any conflicts of interest.
Both the mindfulness and control exercises came from Jon Kabat-Zinn's Mindfulness for Beginners two-disk CD set (Kabat-Zinn, 2006). Systolic and diastolic blood pressure data were acquired using the oscillmoetric method on a Dinamap Model 8100 automated blood pressure monitor (Critikon Corporation, Tampa, FL, USA).
Participants completed a modified version of the Eriksen Flanker Task (Eriksen and Eriksen, 1974). EEG was recorded from 128 scalp sites using a geodesic sensor net and Electrical Geodesics, Inc. Individual-subject response-locked averages were calculated separately for correct-trials and error-trials using a window from −400 ms prior to participant response to 800 ms following participant response. Correct-trial and error-trial ERN amplitudes were averaged across four fronto-central electrode sites (numbers 6 [FCz], 7, 106, and Ref [Cz]; see Figure 1 for sensor layout) and extracted as the mean amplitude from 0 to 100 ms following participant response.
We first examined systolic and diastolic blood pressure at baseline, following mindfulness or control exercises, and following the flanker task to ensure that there was a difference in participant response to the mindfulness and control exercises. The WBSI (Wegner & Zanakos, 1994) is a 15-item measure of the tendency to experience unwanted and intrusive thoughts. The MAAS (Brown & Ryan, 2003) is a 15-item, single-factor measure of dispositional mindfulness.
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This page doesn't support Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8.Please upgrade your browser or activate Google Chrome Frame to improve your experience. Despite the fact that this behavior is best captured using critical thinking (CT) assessments, no studies have examined the effects of mindfulness on CT or the mechanisms underlying any such possible relationship. This study focuses on dispositional mindfulness, a construct which reflects the tendency to engage in this non-reactive, present-moment attention (Brown and Ryan, 2003). When attention is focused on the present moment, internal and external stimuli are observed and brought into awareness. This allows for the early engagement of emotion regulation before intense emotional reactivity to the attended thoughts, feelings, and sensations can occur (Teper et al., 2013). Although many models of EF have been developed, there is an emerging consensus that EF involves three basic processes: updating, inhibition, and shifting. EFs are particularly important in situations or tasks which are novel or where learned automatic responses are not adaptive and therefore additional control is required (Hofmann et al., 2012).
For example, several studies show a positive effect of mindfulness practice on the ability to inhibit automatic responses. One study reported that, after a 10-days mindfulness retreat, working memory capacity improved in a mindfulness group compared to a waitlist control-group (Chambers et al., 2007).
In doing so, it is useful to consider dual processing accounts of higher-order cognition as a useful theoretical framework which can integrate the findings discussed in previous sections. At the core of Buddhist psychology lies the teaching of there being no such thing as a permanent, unchanging self (Dreyfus and Thompson, 2007; Olendzki, 2010). Mindfulness is defined and practiced as a non-judgmental awareness of bodily or mental experiences arising in the present moment. Mindful awareness induces a sharper sense of the normally perceived subjective sense of self (Lutz et al., 2008), but treats it as an object of meditation.
Thus, such participants were recruited and requested to mentally project states representing NS, MS, and SL, while their brain activity was recorded by MEG.
Given that MS is at play also during NS, contrasting the two conditions is expected to reflect NS attenuation, and is hypothesized to result in a reduction of mPFC high-gamma oscillatory activity. They then filled out forms noting their agreement to participate in the experiment, their personal details, and a form estimating their formal meditation experience. Reference coils located approximately 30 cm above the head oriented by the x, y, and z axes were used to remove environmental noise.
Data were cleaned for line frequency (by recording on an additional channel the 50 Hz from the power outlet, and subtracting the average power-line response from every MEG sensor), and 24 Hz building vibration (measured in x, y, and z directions using 3 Bruel and Kjaer accelerometers) artifacts (Tal and Abeles, 2013). The segmented 2-s epochs were multiplied by a Hanning taper, and subjected to a Fast Fourier Transformation (FFT) for the frequencies ranging from 0.5 to 100 Hz. Sources were estimated using Synthetic Aperture Magnetometry (SAM, Robinson and Vrba, 1999). One mechanism for the relationship between meditation and cognitive control is changes in activity of the anterior cingulate cortex-mediated neural pathways. An electrophysiological index of performance monitoring is the error-related negativity (ERN). The Pe is a more posterior component than the ERN and tends to occur between approximately 100 and 400 ms after error commission. They interpreted this difference to be present largely as the result of a propensity toward greater emotional acceptance in those engaging in mindfulness meditation.
Interestingly, a recent study by Ramsburg and Youmans (in press) found that a brief 15-min mindfulness exercise, compared to a resting control group, resulted in improved academic performance. Blood pressure, a key indicator of autonomic function, is significantly lowered by meditation and meditation interventions have shown blood pressure reductions similar to those obtained with diet and exercise interventions (see Anderson et al., 2008 for meta-analytic review). Specifically, consistent with Teper and Inzlicht (2013), we predicted increased amplitude ERN in those assigned to the mindfulness condition relative to the control participants. Sixty-two individuals were recruited from undergraduate psychology courses and randomly assigned to either a mindfulness group or a control group (initial n = 31 per group). Specifically, individuals in the mindfulness group were provided basic instruction on mindfulness meditation and told that they would hear a 14-min audio clip focused on attending to their breathing and being mindful of the moment. All blood pressure readings were obtained according to manufacturer specifications using a properly sized cuff positioned on the left upper arm. Each trial consisted of either congruent or incongruent arrow stimuli presented in white on a black background of a 17-inch computer monitor approximately 20 inches from the participant's head. We used an average across multiple electrodes due to the increased reliability associated with extracting data as the average of multiple electrodes with a similar scalp distribution (see Figure 2) rather than a single electrode (Larson et al., 2010).
Scalp voltage maps for the error-minus-correct error-related negativity (ERN) and post-error positivity (Pe) as a function of group. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure changes as a function of group are presented in Figure 3. Mean systolic (top) and diastolic (bottom) blood pressures for at baseline, following the listening exercises (mindfulness or control), and following the flanker task. All items were scored in the present study so that higher scores indicate higher levels of mindfulness. CT is recognized as an important higher-order cognitive process which involves the ability to analyze and evaluate evidence and arguments without bias from experience and prior knowledge. One influential definition proposes that CT involves the application of particular cognitive skills including analysis, evaluation, and inference skills, in a purposeful, reasoned, and goal-directed manner (Halpern, 1998; Facione, 2013). One view suggests that mindfulness is either not related to CT or even a hindrance to effective CT due to its association with acceptance and non-elaborative, or non-reactive processing (Brendel, 2015). Early teachings on mindfulness suggested that a dispositional tendency to engage in mindful attention is an innate trait as well as something which can be trained (Rau and Williams, 2015).
Notably, research suggests that the two component skills of present-moment awareness and non-reactivity follow distinct developmental trajectories which may vary across individuals (Lilja et al., 2012).
Situations requiring CT fulfill these criteria and EFs may be important to sustain ongoing efforts at CT.

NS-mediating mechanisms have been explored by neuroimaging, mainly fMRI, implicating prefrontal midline structures, but MS processes are not well characterized and SL even less so.
The self is understood to be illusory in the sense of being no more than a mental process—and identification with it is understood to be at the very root of suffering. Regardless of how pleasant or unpleasant the arising experiences are, the meditator trains not to cling to, nor to push them away, but rather to treat them with acceptance, openness and curiosity, watching them arise, play in the theater of the mind and finally dissolve back into the space of the mind (Kabat-Zinn, 1990). The purpose of the study is to map the differential neural activity related to NS and MS, as well as characterize SL, a present-centered conscious experience devoid of an experiencing subjective self. This part of the study is expected to bridge results from the prevalent fMRI imaging literature and the present MEG methodology. Here predictions are less clear, nevertheless, the IPL and insula are likely to play roles. The first due to complaints of tiredness and lack of focus, and the second due to back pain (to the point of stopping the MEG recording). Pre-task procedures included an average of 45 min of clarifying the study's setup, tasks and stimuli using a PowerPoint presentation and allowing time for questions and discussion. Each session consisted of performing tasks during which the participant's brain activity was recorded. Head position was indicated by attaching 5 coils to the scalp and determining, to a 1 mm resolution, their position relative to the sensor array before and after measurement.
In addition, the descriptions were collected immediately after they were produced in order to minimize reliance on episodic recall (Jack and Roepstorff, 2002). The error-related negativity (ERN) and error positivity (Pe) components of the scalp-recorded event-related potential (ERP) represent cingulate-mediated functions of performance monitoring that may be modulated by mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation involves bringing one's complete attention to the experiences occurring in the present moment, in a non-judgmental and accepting way. Long-term expert meditators show increased attention abilities and altered MRI during meditative practice vs. There were no differences between non-meditators and meditators for Pe amplitude; however, the control participants appeared to show slightly more positive Pe amplitude than did the mindfulness participants.
The authors suggested that changes in attention might have accounted for the observed differences. For example, an 8-week meditation intervention (practicing 20 min a day) led to decreased blood pressure with effects lasting at a 1-year follow-up (Carlson et al., 2007). Immediately following the mindfulness or control exercise participants completed a modified Eriksen flanker task while EEG and behavioral data were recorded.
They then completed the Mindfulness of Breathing exercise from the Mindfulness for Beginners Disk 2 CD (total time = 14:33). As noted above, two blood pressure readings taken 2 min apart were averaged at baseline, following completion of the mindfulness task, and following completion of the flanker task.
Participants were instructed to respond as quickly and accurately as possible with a right-hand key press to the central arrow of a five-arrow array. During recording, EEG was referenced to the vertex electrode and digitized continuously at 250 Hz with a 24-bit analog-to-digital converter. Eye blinks were removed from the segmented waveforms using independent components analysis (ICA) in the ERP PCA Toolkit (Dien, 2010). Latency was extracted as the average time of the most negative peak within the 0–100 ms window averaged across the four frontocentral electrodes.
CT is recognized as an important higher-order cognitive process which involves the ability to analyze and evaluate evidence and arguments. The application of CT requires a non-automatic response to a problem situation in order to avoid heuristic and biased thinking (West et al., 2008).
Another view suggests that mindfulness facilitates effective CT due to its association with improved self-regulation (Shapiro et al., 2011).
These developmental trajectories can be tracked using validated self-report questionnaires which assess the components of dispositional mindfulness such as the extensively used Five Factor Mindfulness Questionnaire employed in this study (Sauer et al., 2013). The updating and maintenance of working memory is vital for the accurate active representation of goals and goal-related information (Hofmann et al., 2012).
Studies employing the Stroop task have found better performance in experienced meditators than novices (Chan and Woollacott, 2007), after a 15 min mindfulness meditation (Wenk-Sormaz, 2005) and following a 6-weeks mindfulness training (Allen et al., 2012). Relative to a control condition, this experimental group showed improvement on the Internal Switching task, which measures switching between positive and negative affective words (Chambers et al., 2007).
Furthermore, in a military group prior to deployment, the deleterious effects of stress on working memory capacity were buffered against for those participants who reported high levels of mindfulness practice during an intervention (Jha et al., 2010). To this end we tested 12 long-term mindfulness meditators using a neurophenomenological study design, incorporating both magnetoencephalogram (MEG) recordings and first person descriptions.
Indeed, a recent integrative theoretical framework and systems-based neurobiological model suggests understanding mindfulness by focusing on self-processing and the neural networks underlying self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (Vago and Silbersweig, 2012). Localizing this differential activation within the frequency domain will be a novel contribution of the present study.
In addition, in order to establish a common frame of reference for the first-person descriptions, as well as control for confounds that might result from different sources of training, only participants practicing very similar forms of meditation were included in the study.
In this way, misunderstanding, alteration, or rejection of the scripts provided by the researchers, were minimized (Roepstorff, 2001).
This was followed by an interview conducted via the intercom system, during which brain activity was not recorded. The first 4 s of each 30-s epoch were omitted so as to allow participants sufficient time to enter the states (SL in particular).
Head localization was performed before and after each set of tasks to determine degree of head movement.
The power spectra were then averaged across the epochs of each condition, thus obtaining the mean power for each condition and participant.
It calculates the signal covariance from the MEG sensor data and uses it in conjunction with a forward solution for the dipoles at each 3D brain voxel (of a specified size) to construct optimum spatial filters. We utilized a flanker task, an experimental design, and a brief mindfulness intervention in a sample of 55 healthy non-meditators (n = 28 randomly assigned to the mindfulness group and n = 27 randomly assigned to the control group) to examine autonomic nervous system functions as measured by blood pressure and indices of cognitive control as measured by response times, error rates, post-error slowing, and the ERN and Pe components of the ERP. Thus, it appears that the increased emotional acceptance associated with mindfulness mediation may increase error-related performance monitoring, but not necessarily conscious awareness and salience of errors. We still know little about the pathways through which mindfulness leads to physiological changes and improvement in health—including the relationship between the ACC, autonomic functioning, and mindfulness. We also examined post-error slowing as an index of cognitive control function (see Danielmeier and Ullsperger, 2011 for review). Thus, final study enrollment included 28 individuals (12 female) in the mindfulness group and 27 (14 female) in the control group.
Two blood pressure readings each 2 min apart were taken at baseline, the end of the mindfulness or control exercise, and at the end of the flanker task. Individuals in the control group were provided information about the importance of relaxation and being ethical in our lives.
An index-finger button press was used if the central arrow pointed to the left and a middle-finger button press was used if the central arrow pointed to the right. Error-trial and correct-trial Pe amplitudes were extracted as the mean amplitude from 150 to 300 ms post-response at electrode sites 31, 55 [CPz], 80, and Ref [Cz]; see Figure 1).
Electrode locations averaged for measurement of the error-related negativity (ERN) are in the blue circle; the red circle identifies locations for measurement of the post-error positivity (Pe). Such non-automatic, reflective responses generally require the engagement of executive functioning (EF) which includes updating, inhibition, and shifting of representations in working memory. CT performance also depends on a person’s awareness that a particular thinking skill is required, that the ongoing execution of the skill is adequate, and the ability to monitor and exert control over thinking processes (Halpern, 1998). In light of an emerging body of research demonstrating a positive relationship between mindfulness, self-regulation, and EF we propose that the latter view may be true.
Recent research has shown that over the course of a mindfulness-based meditation training program individual trajectories of change in the ability to engage a mindful state is associated with both increases in dispositional mindfulness and psychological health (Kiken et al., 2015). These questionnaires can also reveal the extent to which those without mindfulness training tend to engage mindful attention (Brown and Ryan, 2003). Furthermore, greater working memory capacity protects goal representations from thought intrusions and decreases mind-wandering.
Considering the operational definition of mindfulness, which involves present-moment awareness and non-reactivity, we propose a relationship between components of mindfulness and component EFs. These phenomenally distinct aspects of self-awareness are being re-conceptualized by contemporary philosophers, psychologists and neurobiologists, aiming at a fruitful exchange between philosophy of mind, phenomenology, and the cognitive sciences.
The notion of relinquishing the sense of owning and directing experience, may seem to the Western mind as nothing short of pathological (for a related discussion, see Engler, 2003). Importantly, the literature does not supply information regarding the oscillatory signature of these mostly fMRI findings. Thus, the data of two further participants (Zen and non-dual practitioners, see Lutz et al., 2007 for details on these forms of meditation) were not analyzed.
The participants were encouraged to stretch their limbs and relax during the interview, but were requested not to move and to keep their eyes closed while performing the tasks. This decision was made after consulting a well-known, very-long-term, meditation teacher, concerning the study design, and after 2 pilot runs (with two of the authors, Aviva Berkovich-Ohana and Yair Dor-Ziderman, who are also long-term meditators).
The next step involved calculating, for each frequency of each sensor of each participant, a power percent-in-signal-change (PSC) metric, for estimating power differences in NS vs. Systolic blood pressure significantly differentiated groups following the mindfulness intervention and following the flanker task.
In a 2-week meditation study where participants practiced meditation and yoga for 2 h per day, blood pressure was significantly lower at the end of the intervention (Ankad et al., 2011). The two readings at each portion were averaged together for statistical analyses to increase reliability. Flanker stimuli were presented for 100 ms prior to the onset of the central arrow, which remained on the screen for 600 ms. We did not calculate latency of the Pe as it tends to be slower component without a distinct peak and functional significance to latency measurements. Based on research showing that mindfulness enhances aspects of EF and certain higher-order cognitive processes, we hypothesized that individuals higher in facets of dispositional mindfulness would demonstrate greater CT performance, and that this relationship would be mediated by EF. However, a link between mindfulness and CT has not been established in the literature and this may depend on a range of factors including the form of mindfulness investigated, the particular CT skill assessed, and the characteristics of study participants. The sustained attention to present-moment experience developed through mindfulness practice likely requires the ability to switch attention between stimuli in current experience and back to current experience when the mind wanders (Bishop et al., 2004). They suggested that mindfulness prompts the self-regulation of attention which activates system 2 or reflective thinking.
These results highlight the role of dissociable frequency-dependent networks in supporting different modes of self-processing, and the utility of combining phenomenology, mindfulness training and electrophysiological neuroimaging for characterizing self-awareness. The remaining 12 practitioners, all mindfulness meditators practicing similar forms of Vipassana, either originating from or inspired by the Buddhist Theravada tradition, comprise the participants of the present study.

To correct for head and body movements during the interview session, head-shapes were re-registered at the beginning of each session. A recording with instructions for each condition was sounded, after which the participant performed the requested task. There were non-significant differences between the mindfulness and control groups for response times, post-error slowing, and error rates on the flanker task. Furthermore, ERP studies have shown meditation is associated with increased attentional acuity among meditators (see Cahn and Polich, 2006 for review).
Novice meditators also show improved performance and greater efficiency on the Stroop task after engaging in meditation exercises (Wenk-Sormaz, 2005; Chan and Woollacott, 2007). Taken together, there remains ambiguity about the functional significance of the ERN, but there is a relationship with conflict and emotional processes.
Taken together, meditation interventions performed by expert and novice meditators seem to produce consistent desirable results regarding autonomic functioning and cardiovascular health, with blood pressure being a consistent indicator of these changes, and can potentially be used as an indicator of whether a brief mindfulness intervention is effective in inducing a calm and mindful state. Following the flanker task participants were debriefed about the study aims and provided course credit or $10 per hour for participation. These tracks only involved educational information on environmental awareness and ethical behaviors and did not involve any meditation practice.
We controlled for baseline blood pressure values to ensure any correlations were due to the variables we manipulated rather than pre-testing blood pressure values. Cross-sectional assessment of these constructs in a sample of 178 university students was achieved using the observing and non-reactivity sub-scales of the Five Factor Mindfulness Questionnaire, a battery of EF tasks and the Halpern Critical Thinking Assessment.
The current study focused on younger adults and examined the relationship between dispositional mindfulness as measured using a short form of the Five Factor mindfulness Questionnaire (Bohlmeijer et al., 2011) and CT performance assessed using the Halpern Critical Thinking Assessment (Halpern, 2010). It is also consistent with studies on mindfulness-based interventions that demonstrated increases in dispositional mindfulness which correlated with psychological health benefits (Kiken et al., 2015).
In the language of working memory theory, this implies continuous updating of the thought-action representations which make up the contents of working memory as current experience changes and shifting between these thought-action representations (Teper and Inzlicht, 2013).
In another study by Hodgins and Adair (2010), participants in a mindfulness training group performed better than controls on a task requiring participants to switch between visual perspectives.
However, the Default-interventionist dual process theory of higher-order cognition may offer a more refined view as it specifies the mechanisms by which this self-regulation occurs and the conditions under which it will lead to an optimal response (Evans and Stanovich, 2013). In particular, the different modes of self-awareness might not only involve different brain topographies, but perhaps also different oscillatory signatures. A 20-min break was suggested to the participants after completing the 5th session of the experiment, during which refreshments were offered. At the end of the 30 s, a sound was heard indicating to the participant to stop and rate task performance success (on a 1–3 scale). The instructions for each condition were presented using E-prime 1.0 and delivered via a STAX SRS-005 amplifier and SR-003 push-pull electrostatic ear speakers coupled by a vinyl tube to silicon earpieces to prevent magnetic noise within the shielded room. To ensure the removal of all heartbeat, eye, and muscle artifact, an independent component analysis (ICA) was performed on the data (Jung et al., 2000).
Amplitude and latency of the ERN did not differ between groups; however, amplitude of the Pe was significantly smaller in individuals in the mindfulness group than in the control group. In conjunction with EEG and ERP performance, improvements in attention and self-regulatory processes through meditation interventions have been linked to more efficient cardiovascular functioning (Tang et al., 2009).
We used systolic and diastolic blood pressure as an indicator of the impact of the meditation intervention. Thus, all participants heard the same voice from the same set of CDs for approximately the same amount of time with the only difference being the introduction of a mindfulness exercise in the mindfulness group vs.
The inter-trial interval varied randomly between 800, 1000, and 1200 ms, with a mean of 1000 ms. Data were average re-referenced and used the polar average reference effect (PARE) correction. Our hypotheses were tested by constructing a multiple meditation model which was analyzed using Structural Equation Modeling. Few studies have examined the real-world cognitive outcomes of mindfulness though one study did show that dispositional mindfulness was related to fewer experiences of cognitive failures in daily life (Herndon, 2008). A range of measures have been developed to assess dispositional mindfulness and across these the two-factor structure of mindfulness tends to be supported (Rau and Williams, 2015). More generally, EFs support the coordination of thoughts and actions in a goal-directed manner and are essential for success in education, work, and everyday living (Hofmann et al., 2012).
Engaging this present-moment attention in a non-reactive manner then requires the inhibition of elaborative processing of such representations (Hayes and Shenk, 2004; Holas and Jankowski, 2012). This particular theory suggests that higher-order cognition, such as effective CT, requires inhibition of default Type 1 processes, which by definition exert minimal working memory load and occur automatically in response to stimuli (West et al., 2008). Such information, however, has the advantage of being volitionally produced and in non-diseased brains.
In this regard, MEG is an appealing research tool as it has both an excellent temporal (and thus spectral) resolution, and it allows for a reliable source reconstruction (relative to EEG) with a reasonable spatial resolution (Hansen et al., 2010).
This measure was incorporated in order to allow post-hoc identification of bad trials (button press of 1). Findings suggest that a brief mindfulness intervention is associated with reduced autonomic arousal and decreased amplitude of the Pe, an ERP associated with error awareness, attention, and motivational salience, but does not alter amplitude of the ERN or behavioral performance.
The pathways through which mindfulness leads to physiological changes and improvement in health and the length of meditation needed to alter physiological and cognitive processes, however, have not been extensively studied. This group of researchers also found increased ACC activity and processing efficiency associated with meditation practice in novices (Tang et al., 2007, 2009, 2012). We expected decreased systolic blood pressure across the mindfulness intervention in the mindfulness group relative to the control participants.
Exclusion criteria were assessed via participant report and included previous practice in mindfulness meditation, current or previous diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder, current substance abuse or dependence, neurological disorders, head injury with loss of consciousness, left-handedness, or uncorrected visual impairment. Evidence was found for inhibition mediating the relationships between both observing and non-reactivity and CT in different ways.
In light of these identified gaps in the literature, the current study sought to investigate the relationship between dispositional mindfulness, EF, and CT skills. Dispositional mindfulness has also been found to be negatively correlated with engagement in intuitive thinking (Remmers et al., 2014).
Recent research has shown that EF mediates the relationship between mindfulness and positive and negative affect (Short et al., 2015) but no studies have examined the indirect effects of specific mindfulness facets through specific components of EF on outcomes usually associated with CT ability. It is assumed that CT skills involve working memory driven Type 2 processes, which are typically slow, limited in capacity, conscious, and controlled. Like other conscious mental content produced by the brain, NS representations, perceived as thoughts and feelings, are stamped with the subjective signature of being our thoughts and feelings.
All the performed procedures are in compliance with the Code of Ethics of the World Medical Association (Declaration of Helsinki), and were approved by the Research Ethics Board of Bar-Ilan University. The participants' condition was closely monitored throughout the experiment via the intercom (during the interview sessions) and the closed-circuit TV camera (at all times).
However, as none of the participants in any of the conditions reported here indicated such bad trials, this measure was not further used.
The data were then decomposed into a set of independent components (248, as the number of sensors) ordered by degree of their explained variance. The purpose of the current study was to examine the influence of brief mindfulness meditation on systolic and diastolic blood pressure and the neural correlates of cognitive control and error-related performance monitoring. This study is novel in that it is not known if brief mindfulness meditation practice in a sample of novice meditators will affect performance monitoring and cognitive control functions.
Thus, all participants were neurologically- and psychiatrically-healthy individuals unpracticed in mindfulness meditation. Indirect-only (or full) mediation was demonstrated for the relationship between observing, inhibition, and CT. These Type 2 processes will be most effective when working memory is being updated efficiently as new information arises.
Thus, self-specifying processes are at play also during NS (Gallagher, 2000; Damasio, 2010). The participants gave their written consent and were financially compensated for their time. In addition, participants were asked a number of times throughout the experiment if they were tired and needed an additional break.
Components indicating heartbeats or eye movements were determined from a visual inspection of the 2D scalp maps and time course of each component. Taken together, results for systolic blood pressure suggest the mindfulness manipulation was successful in disproportionately decreasing blood pressure relative to the control condition and that this effect remained present through the end of the flanker task. Competitive mediation was demonstrated for the relationship between non-reactivity, inhibition, and CT. However, exactly how EF relates to CT has not been investigated empirically (Sanz de Acedo Lizarraga et al., 2012). To reduce dimensionality prior to localization, 1-sample t-tests were performed for each frequency band and for each comparison against the null hypothesis that the PSC measures came from a continuous, normal distribution with a zero mean. Future research examining graded levels of mindfulness and tracking error awareness will clarify relationship between mindfulness and performance monitoring.
This suggests additional mediators of the relationship between non-reactivity and CT which are not accounted for in this model and have a negative effect on CT in addition to the positive effect mediated by inhibition. As noted above, mindfulness facilitates the executive mechanisms of working memory which are critical to engaging Type 2 processes. These findings are discussed in the context of the Default Interventionist Dual Process Theory of Higher-order Cognition and previous studies on mindfulness, self-regulation, EF, and higher-order cognition.
Finally, 2D scalp topographies of the mean PSC in the significant frequency bands and comparisons were created. In summary, dispositional mindfulness appears to facilitate CT performance and this effect is mediated by the inhibition component of EF.
Each of these studies emphasized the non-automatic orientation to experience that mindfulness brings and which is characteristic of the engagement of EF and Type-2 processing but they did not examine whether EF mediated the effect of mindfulness on these cognitive outcomes. However, this relationship is not straightforward which suggests many possibilities for future research.
Therefore, we hypothesize that mindfulness may facilitate CT skills, and engagement of Type 2 processing in general, via enhancement of the EFs governing working memory.
We explore this possibility by testing whether EF mediates the relationship between mindfulness and CT.

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