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Meditation increases the depth of information processing and improves the allocation of attention in space.

van Leeuwen S, Singer W, Melloni L - Front Hum Neurosci (2012)

Bottom Line: Specifically, we investigated the effect of attentional training on the global precedence effect, i.e., faster detection of targets on a global than on a local level.Analysis of reaction times confirmed this prediction.In contrast with control group, which showed a local target selection effect only in the P1 and a global target selection effect in the P3 component, meditators showed effects of local information processing in the P1, N2, and P3 and of global processing for the N1, N2, and P3.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Neurophysiology, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

ABSTRACT
During meditation, practitioners are required to center their attention on a specific object for extended periods of time. When their thoughts get diverted, they learn to quickly disengage from the distracter. We hypothesized that learning to respond to the dual demand of engaging attention on specific objects and disengaging quickly from distracters enhances the efficiency by which meditation practitioners can allocate attention. We tested this hypothesis in a global-to-local task while measuring electroencephalographic activity from a group of eight highly trained Buddhist monks and nuns and a group of eight age and education matched controls with no previous meditation experience. Specifically, we investigated the effect of attentional training on the global precedence effect, i.e., faster detection of targets on a global than on a local level. We expected to find a reduced global precedence effect in meditation practitioners but not in controls, reflecting that meditators can more quickly disengage their attention from the dominant global level. Analysis of reaction times confirmed this prediction. To investigate the underlying changes in brain activity and their time course, we analyzed event-related potentials. Meditators showed an enhanced ability to select the respective target level, as reflected by enhanced processing of target level information. In contrast with control group, which showed a local target selection effect only in the P1 and a global target selection effect in the P3 component, meditators showed effects of local information processing in the P1, N2, and P3 and of global processing for the N1, N2, and P3. Thus, meditators seem to display enhanced depth of processing. In addition, meditation altered the uptake of information such that meditators selected target level information earlier in the processing sequence than controls. In a longitudinal experiment, we could replicate the behavioral effects, suggesting that meditation modulates attention already after a 4-day meditation retreat. Together, these results suggest that practicing meditation enhances the speed with which attention can be allocated and relocated, thus increasing the depth of information processing and reducing response latency.

No MeSH data available.


Source reconstruction. Areas showing a significant target level effect, p < 0.05, FWE-corrected for meditators and controls separately. The analysis per group further validates the interaction effects observed in Figure 9, as the global vs. local effects are mostly found in the meditator group.
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FA1: Source reconstruction. Areas showing a significant target level effect, p < 0.05, FWE-corrected for meditators and controls separately. The analysis per group further validates the interaction effects observed in Figure 9, as the global vs. local effects are mostly found in the meditator group.

Mentions: Figure 9A shows the results of the interaction contrast for the time period between 45 and 90 ms. Two significant clusters are observed: one in the left temporal parietal junction (TPJ) and another in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Both regions have previously been reported to be active during attention to global/local stimuli (Fink et al., 1997). Further t-tests showed that meditators were engaging the left TPJ more for local relative to global processing while controls were not (Figure A1A in Appendix). In the following time period (130–190 ms) we observed widespread differences across multiple cortical areas, spanning frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital regions including the anterior cingulate cortex, precuneus and inferior occipital gyrus (Figure 9B) that have previously been found activated during other global-to-local tasks where the distractor is incongruent with the target (Weissman et al., 2002). t-Tests showed that these regions were more active for global target processing in meditators but not in controls (Figure A1B in Appendix). Between 200 and 250 ms a significant cluster of differential activation was found in the left inferior parietal lobe (Figure 9C). t-Tests revealed that meditators displayed increased activation for global targets in the right and left middle temporal gyrus and predominantly in the left occipital regions for local targets. No effect was observed in controls (Figure A1C in Appendix). Finally, during the 250–400 ms window differences were primarily localized to bilateral clusters in temporal, occipital, and frontal regions, corresponding to the inferior temporal gyrus, inferior occipital/fusiform gyrus and DLPFC (Figure 9D), in line with previous studies (Fink et al., 1997; Weissman et al., 2002). Again, t-tests revealed differential (global > local) activation in the meditation group but not in the control group (Figure A1D in Appendix). This increase in activation for global target stimuli was found in inferior frontal regions. The overlap between the localization of activation patterns in the t-tests and the interaction contrast and the finding that target level differences could be found in the meditators but not in the controls suggests that the interaction effects found were indeed driven by increased target level effects in the meditation relative to the control population.


Meditation increases the depth of information processing and improves the allocation of attention in space.

van Leeuwen S, Singer W, Melloni L - Front Hum Neurosci (2012)

Source reconstruction. Areas showing a significant target level effect, p < 0.05, FWE-corrected for meditators and controls separately. The analysis per group further validates the interaction effects observed in Figure 9, as the global vs. local effects are mostly found in the meditator group.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3351800&req=5

FA1: Source reconstruction. Areas showing a significant target level effect, p < 0.05, FWE-corrected for meditators and controls separately. The analysis per group further validates the interaction effects observed in Figure 9, as the global vs. local effects are mostly found in the meditator group.
Mentions: Figure 9A shows the results of the interaction contrast for the time period between 45 and 90 ms. Two significant clusters are observed: one in the left temporal parietal junction (TPJ) and another in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Both regions have previously been reported to be active during attention to global/local stimuli (Fink et al., 1997). Further t-tests showed that meditators were engaging the left TPJ more for local relative to global processing while controls were not (Figure A1A in Appendix). In the following time period (130–190 ms) we observed widespread differences across multiple cortical areas, spanning frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital regions including the anterior cingulate cortex, precuneus and inferior occipital gyrus (Figure 9B) that have previously been found activated during other global-to-local tasks where the distractor is incongruent with the target (Weissman et al., 2002). t-Tests showed that these regions were more active for global target processing in meditators but not in controls (Figure A1B in Appendix). Between 200 and 250 ms a significant cluster of differential activation was found in the left inferior parietal lobe (Figure 9C). t-Tests revealed that meditators displayed increased activation for global targets in the right and left middle temporal gyrus and predominantly in the left occipital regions for local targets. No effect was observed in controls (Figure A1C in Appendix). Finally, during the 250–400 ms window differences were primarily localized to bilateral clusters in temporal, occipital, and frontal regions, corresponding to the inferior temporal gyrus, inferior occipital/fusiform gyrus and DLPFC (Figure 9D), in line with previous studies (Fink et al., 1997; Weissman et al., 2002). Again, t-tests revealed differential (global > local) activation in the meditation group but not in the control group (Figure A1D in Appendix). This increase in activation for global target stimuli was found in inferior frontal regions. The overlap between the localization of activation patterns in the t-tests and the interaction contrast and the finding that target level differences could be found in the meditators but not in the controls suggests that the interaction effects found were indeed driven by increased target level effects in the meditation relative to the control population.

Bottom Line: Specifically, we investigated the effect of attentional training on the global precedence effect, i.e., faster detection of targets on a global than on a local level.Analysis of reaction times confirmed this prediction.In contrast with control group, which showed a local target selection effect only in the P1 and a global target selection effect in the P3 component, meditators showed effects of local information processing in the P1, N2, and P3 and of global processing for the N1, N2, and P3.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Neurophysiology, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

ABSTRACT
During meditation, practitioners are required to center their attention on a specific object for extended periods of time. When their thoughts get diverted, they learn to quickly disengage from the distracter. We hypothesized that learning to respond to the dual demand of engaging attention on specific objects and disengaging quickly from distracters enhances the efficiency by which meditation practitioners can allocate attention. We tested this hypothesis in a global-to-local task while measuring electroencephalographic activity from a group of eight highly trained Buddhist monks and nuns and a group of eight age and education matched controls with no previous meditation experience. Specifically, we investigated the effect of attentional training on the global precedence effect, i.e., faster detection of targets on a global than on a local level. We expected to find a reduced global precedence effect in meditation practitioners but not in controls, reflecting that meditators can more quickly disengage their attention from the dominant global level. Analysis of reaction times confirmed this prediction. To investigate the underlying changes in brain activity and their time course, we analyzed event-related potentials. Meditators showed an enhanced ability to select the respective target level, as reflected by enhanced processing of target level information. In contrast with control group, which showed a local target selection effect only in the P1 and a global target selection effect in the P3 component, meditators showed effects of local information processing in the P1, N2, and P3 and of global processing for the N1, N2, and P3. Thus, meditators seem to display enhanced depth of processing. In addition, meditation altered the uptake of information such that meditators selected target level information earlier in the processing sequence than controls. In a longitudinal experiment, we could replicate the behavioral effects, suggesting that meditation modulates attention already after a 4-day meditation retreat. Together, these results suggest that practicing meditation enhances the speed with which attention can be allocated and relocated, thus increasing the depth of information processing and reducing response latency.

No MeSH data available.