Attentional and Affective Consequences of Technology Supported Mindfulness Training: A Randomized, Active Control, Efficacy Trial
BioMed Central Psychology
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2016
Source ID: shanti-sources-116764
Collection: Meditation Apps
Abstract: Background Mindfulness training (MT) programs represent an approach to attention training with well-validated mental health benefits. However, research supporting MT efficacy is based predominantly on weekly-meeting, facilitator-led, group-intervention formats. It is unknown whether participants might benefit from neurofeedback-assisted, technology-supported MT (N-tsMT), in which meditation is delivered individually, without the need for a facilitator, travel to a training site, or the presence of a supportive group environment. Mirroring the validation of group MT interventions, the first step in addressing this question requires identifying whether N-tsMT promotes measurable benefits. Here, we report on an initial investigation of a commercial N-tsMT system. Methods In a randomized, active control trial, community-dwelling healthy adult participants carried out 6 weeks of daily practice, receiving either N-tsMT (n = 13), or a control condition of daily online math training (n = 13). Training effects were assessed on target measures of attention and well-being. Participants also completed daily post-training surveys assessing effects on mood, body awareness, calm, effort, and stress. ResultsAnalysis revealed training effects specific to N-tsMT, with attentional improvements in overall reaction time on a Stroop task, and well-being improvements via reduced somatic symptoms on the Brief Symptom Inventory. Attention and well-being improvements were correlated, and effects were greatest for the most neurotic participants. However, secondary, exploratory measures of attention and well-being did not show training-specific effects. N-tsMT was associated with greater body awareness and calm, and initially greater effort that later converged with effort in the control condition. Conclusions Preliminary findings indicate that N-tsMT promotes modest benefits for attention and subjective well-being in a healthy community sample relative to an active control condition. However, the findings would benefit from replication in a larger sample, and more intensive practice or more comprehensive MT instruction might be required to promote the broader benefits typically reported in group format, facilitated MT. Trial registrationCurrent Controlled Trials ISRCTN43629398. Retrospectively registered on June 16, 2016.