Reset a task set after five minutes of mindfulness practice

Conscious Cogn. 2015 Sep;35:98-109. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2015.04.023. Epub 2015 May 16.


This study aimed to evaluate the impact of a brief mindfulness practice on reducing the carryover effect caused by a previous task set and to determine the mechanism for its effectiveness. Experiment 1 showed that a memorized color interfered with subsequent visual search as a singleton distractor only when color was a defining feature for the search target. In Experiment 2, three interventions (scene-viewing, distraction, and mindfulness practice) were implemented across three groups for five minutes between two blocks; color was relevant to search in the first block and irrelevant in the second. Only the mindfulness group showed a non-significant carryover effect. Experiment 3 demonstrated that the scene-viewing participants continued adopting a suppressive mode of attentional control on a previously distracting color during letter judgment. In contrast, mindfulness practice could reset a task set. Mindfulness practice could enhance concentration in the present moment via reconfiguring the mode of attentional control.

Keywords: Attentional capture; Attentional control; Mindfulness; Task-set inertia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Humans
  • Mindfulness*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*