"A growing body of research links meditation to improved attention and cognitive control. Cognitive control refers to the ability to govern thoughts and actions in accord with internal intentions and involves a complex interplay between dlPFC and ACC-mediated neural mechanisms (Botvinick et al., 2001; Miller and Cohen, 2001). Long-term expert meditators show increased attention abilities and altered MRI during meditative practice vs. control conditions (Cahn and Polich, 2006; Brefczynski-Lewis et al., 2007; Holzel et al., 2007; Moore and Malinowski, 2009; Kozasa et al., 2012; Moore et al., 2012). Similarly, experienced mindfulness meditators performed better on a Stroop interference task and a concentration and endurance test, including electrophysiological indices of attention, indicating stronger attention abilities for practiced meditators relative to non-meditators (Moore and Malinowski, 2009; Moore et al., 2012). Novice meditators also show improved performance and greater efficiency on the Stroop task after engaging in meditation exercises (Wenk-Sormaz, 2005;Chan and Woollacott, 2007). Studies involving functional MRI show that the ACC and prefrontal cortex (including dorsolateral and medial PFC) are significantly affected by meditation, with experienced meditators showing improved efficiency and response inhibition relating to these areas (Allen et al., 2012; Froeliger et al., 2012; Kozasa et al., 2012).
Improvements in attention and cognitive control abilities are not limited to meditators who are adept. Brief meditation practices with novices have produced significant changes in attention abilities and higher-order cognitive processes relative to pre-meditation baselines or non-meditators (Jha et al., 2007; Tang et al., 2007, 2009; Chambers et al., 2008; Zeidan et al., 2010; Moore et al., 2012). For example, Moore et al. (2012) employed a 16-week meditation program, 10-min-practice daily, in their experimental group and observed improved focus attention and efficiency of cognitive resources. Jha et al. (2007) examined an 8-week mindfulness program with improved attention andTang et al. (2007) had students meditate daily for 20 min for 5 days and found improved attention and self-regulation relative to a relaxation control group. This group of researchers also found increased ACC activity and processing efficiency associated with meditation practice in novices (Tang et al., 2007, 2009, 2012)."
Front. Hum. Neurosci., 08 July 2013 | doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00308
The impact of a brief mindfulness meditation intervention on cognitive control and error-related performance monitoringMichael J. Larson1,2*, Patrick R. Steffen1 and Mark Primosch1