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Mindfulness meditation training and attention in older adults : an ERP study

Bertrand, CL 2013 , 'Mindfulness meditation training and attention in older adults : an ERP study', Coursework Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Given the current and predicted physical and financial costs of cognitive decline in older adults, considerable research attention has focussed on finding interventions effective in slowing or reversing this decline. More recently, mindfulness meditation practices, derived from Buddhist meditation techniques have been considered as possible attentional training tools. The present study examined the electrophysiological correlates of attention in healthy older adults before and after 10 weeks of mindfulness meditation training in the Vipassana tradition. A visual threestimulus oddball paradigm was employed and accuracy and reaction time measures, as well as event related potentials (ERPs) were compared before and after the mindfulness meditation course. Mean amplitude and peak latency of ERP components P3a and P3b were measured in response to the novel and target stimuli in the oddball task respectively at the two time points. Participants were 16 healthy
adults aged between 60-85 years (M= 68.13, SD = 7.22) with no previous meditation experience. Results failed to show support for the hypotheses that mindfulness training would be associated with improved performance on behavioural measures and reduced P3a and P3b amplitude and latency as elicited by the novel and target stimuli respectively. The implications of these results were considered in context of the varied results of previous work in the study of the relationship between mindfulness meditation and attention, particularly in older adults. Recommendations for future research centre on the need for rigorously conducted randomised controlled trials to further explore this relationship and the potential for mindfulness meditation to be incorporated into cognitive training programs.
Separate from the declines in cognitive domains seen in different forms of dementia, cognitive decline is also a normal consequence of ageing in otherwise healthy individuals (Epel, Daubenmier, Moskowitz, Folkman, & Blackburn, 2009; Slagter,
Davidson, & Lutz, 2011). Older adults show not only general slowing of information processing, but also deteriorations in specific higher cognitive functioning. This age-related cognitive decline has been found to occur across a variety of cognitive domains, such as: episodic memory; visuo-spatial skills; and executive functioning including working memory and attention (Buckner, 2004; Hseih, Liang, & Tsai, 2011). Such declines may have a significant effect on an individual's ability to live independently and undertake various activities of daily living; and subsequently, their quality of life may decline (Wolinsky et al., 2006).

Item Type: Thesis - Coursework Master
Authors/Creators:Bertrand, CL
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Copyright 2013 the author

Additional Information:

Thesis (MPsych(Clin))--University of Tasmania, 2013. Includes bibliographical references

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