A suspended act: increased reflectivity and gender-dependent electrophysiological change following Quadrato Motor Training

Front Psychol. 2014 Feb 3;5:55. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00055. eCollection 2014.


Quadrato Motor Training (QMT) is a specifically-structured walking meditation, aimed at improving reflectivity and lowering habitual thought and movement. Here we set out to examine the possible effect of QMT on reflectivity, employing the Hidden Figures Test (HFT), which assesses both spatial performance (measured by correct answers) as well as reflectivity (interpolated from correct answers and reaction time). In the first study (n = 24, only females), we showed that QMT significantly improves HFT performance, compared to two groups, controlling for cognitive or motor aspects of the QMT: Verbal Training (identical cognitive training with verbal response) and Simple Motor Training (similar motor training with reduced choice requirements). These results show that QMT improves HFT performance above the pre-post expected learning. In the second study, building on previous literature showing gender-dependent effects on cognitive performance, we conducted a preliminary pilot examining gender-dependent effect of training on reflectivity and its electrophysiological counterparts. EEG analyses focused on theta, alpha and gamma coherence. HFT performance and resting-state EEG were measured in 37 participants (20 males), using a within-subject pre-post design. Following training, HFT performance improved in both genders. However, we found a gender-dependent difference in functional connectivity: while theta and alpha intra-hemispheric coherence was enhanced in females, the opposite pattern was found in males. These results are discussed in relation to neuronal efficiency theory. Together, the results demonstrate that QMT improves spatial performance, and may involve a gender-dependent electrophysiological effect. This study emphasizes both the importance of studying gender-related training effects within the contemplative neuroscience endeavor, as well as the need to widen its scope toward including "contemplation in action."

Keywords: EEG coherence; gender; motor training; reflectivity; spatial cognition.