Just a short session of meditation can significantly boost one’s ability to quickly and accurately complete cognitive tasks, even if they have never meditated before, a study has found. Researchers from Yale University and Swarthmore College in the US found that college students who listen to a 10-minute meditation tape perform better on cognitive tests than peers who listen to a “control” recording on a generic subject.
The study, published in the journal Frontiers of Neuroscience, shows even people who have never meditated before can benefit from even a short meditation practice. “We have known for awhile that people who practice meditation for a few weeks or months tend to perform better on cognitive tests, but now we know you don’t have to spend weeks practising to see improvement,” said Hedy Kober, associate professor at Yale.
The research team randomly divided college students into two groups. One group listened to a 10-minute recording on meditation prior to performing cognitive tests, and the second group listened to a similarly produced tape about sequoia trees. Both groups were then given simple tasks designed to measure cognitive dexterity. Those who listened to the meditation recording performed significantly better, across two studies.
There was one exception, however. Those who scored highest in measurements of neuroticism — “I worry all the time” — did not benefit from listening to the meditation tape. “We don’t know if longer meditation sessions, or multiple sessions, would improve their cognitive scores, and we look forward to testing that in future studies,” Kober said.