The influence of mindfulness meditation on inattention and physiological markers of stress on students with learning disabilities and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Res Dev Disabil. 2020 May:100:103630. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2020.103630. Epub 2020 Mar 9.


Background: Over recent decades, the number of students diagnosed with learning disabilities and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorders has substantially increased. These students face various challenges and experience stress when receiving higher education.

Aims: The purpose of this study was to compare two non-pharmacological interventions: mindfulness and device-guided slow breathing, with a control group.

Methods: Seventy-three students (age = 25.76, std. dev = 3.10) with attention problems and/or learning disabilities were randomly assigned to three groups: mindfulness meditation, device guided breathing practice and waiting-list control. Before and after the intervention physiological and psychological measures were collected.

Results: Our results show that only mindfulness practice improved awareness of the present moment and decreased hyperactivity and inattention. Furthermore, both mindfulness and practice with device-guided breathing were associated with stress reduction, as shown by an increase in the galvanic skin response only in the control group.

Conclusions: Implementation of the study results may lead to an advance in treating attention deficit disorders and learning disabilities, especially among higher education students.

Keywords: ADHD; Device-guided breathing; Learning disabilities; Mindfulness meditation; RESPeRATE; Stress.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / rehabilitation*
  • Breathing Exercises / methods
  • Female
  • Galvanic Skin Response
  • Humans
  • Learning Disabilities / psychology
  • Learning Disabilities / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Meditation / psychology
  • Mindfulness / methods*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / rehabilitation*
  • Students / psychology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult