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Meditation Studies

Most forms of meditation share the essential feature of attention regulation. The word meditation describes a broad range of practices aimed at cultivating particular attentional sets to increase cognitive control, achieve existential insight, and promote well-being. Drawing on traditional Buddhist perspectives, scientists generally classify meditation practices into two non-exhaustive categories: focused attention and open monitoring. Focused attention involves sustained narrowing of attention on an experiential object such as the breath or a mantra. Open monitoring, on the other hand, involves non-discriminatory widening of attention to include the whole field of present-moment experience. Most meditative techniques lie somewhere on a continuum between these poles, which overlap in their attention-based approaches toward similar goals.

Meditation emphasizes meta-awareness with the aim of overriding and even eliminating undesirable patterns of behaviour and cognition. In addition to promoting structural neuroplasticity, short- and long-term meditation practice can lead to alterations in cognitive performance, including reduced attentional blink, increased executive efficiency, and improved sustained attention. Furthermore, long-term practitioners have demonstrated de-coupling of neural areas related to spontaneous conceptual thought and sensory perception. Thus, similar to hypnosis, meditation may provide a means of bringing deeply- ingrained processes under the purview of control.

Current students involving meditation include:

Meditation, Open Attention and Visual Search

Mindfulness and Emotional Regulation

Hypnosis and Meditation: Complementary Perspectives on Cognitive Control