Can specific attentional skills be modified with mindfulness training for novice practitioners?
School of Arts and Humanities
Mindfulness practice is becoming an accepted psychological intervention used in clinical settings to help enhance attention. To date however relatively few randomised control trial (RCT) studies have investigated the effect of mindfulness training on attentional skills in novice practitioners. This study examined the effect of daily mindfulness practice on changes in attention skills; alerting, orienting and executive control in novice practitioners. Forty six university students from Perth, Western Australia were randomly assigned to one of two groups (mindfulness or waitlist control). Baseline analyses of psychological wellbeing indicated that the two groups initially were comparable in this domain. Pre- and post-test assessments using the Attention Network Test (ANT) were conducted to measure attention skills. Repeated measures ANOVA were used to examine the effect of intervention. Significant improvement in orienting and executive control skills following the mindfulness intervention was noted, however, no changes in alerting attentional skills were detected. Mindfulness practice impacted on the fundamental processes of the selective (orienting) and executive attention (executive control) networks which may in turn have additional beneficial effects in a variety of domains and situations. These findings add to existing literature that supports the positive and beneficial effect of regular mindfulness practice for the enhancement of attentional skills and its potential application to clinical populations.