Closed-loop digital meditation improves sustained attention in young adults

Nat Hum Behav. 2019 Jul;3(7):746-757. doi: 10.1038/s41562-019-0611-9. Epub 2019 Jun 3.


Attention is a fundamental cognitive process that is critical for essentially all aspects of higher-order cognition and real-world activities. Younger generations have deeply embraced information technology and multitasking in their personal lives, school and the workplace, creating myriad challenges to their attention. While improving sustained attention in healthy young adults would be beneficial, enhancing this ability has proven notoriously difficult in this age group. Here we show that 6 weeks of engagement with a meditation-inspired, closed-loop software program (MediTrain) delivered on mobile devices led to gains in both sustained attention and working memory in healthy young adults. These improvements were associated with positive changes in key neural signatures of attentional control (frontal theta inter-trial coherence and parietal P3b latency), as measured by electroencephalography. Our findings suggest the utility of delivering aspects of the ancient practice of focused-attention meditation in a modern, technology-based approach and its benefits on enhancing sustained attention.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electroencephalography
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300*
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meditation*
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Multitasking Behavior
  • Young Adult