|According to a new study, meditation can alter the brain activity become less error-prone and increase its capacity to recognize the error. / Photo by: georgerudy via 123rf|
People who make mistakes or are forgetful when in a hurry can find refuge in meditation to help them become less error-prone. This is according to a new study conducted by Michigan State University researchers.
Meditation and Error Monitoring
The study titled “On Variation in Mindfulness Training: A Multimodal Study of Brief Open Monitoring Meditation on Error Monitoring,” which was published in the journal Brain Science, explained that meditation that focuses on awareness of sensations, thoughts, and feelings can alter the brain activity and increase its capacity to recognize the error. As a result, it can help the person make fewer mistakes.
Before coming up with such a conclusion, Yanli Lin from MSU’s Department of Psychology and team recruited more than 200 participants to help them determine how “open-monitoring meditation” can affect an individual recognizing and responding to mistakes. The subjects were people who have never tried meditation before.
The researchers then guided the subjects to undergo a 20-minute open-monitoring meditation while their brain activity was measured using EEG or electroencephalography. The participants then underwent a computerized distraction test. Lin said that the EEG measured the brain activity of the participants at the millisecond level. This enabled the research team to acquire precise measurements of their subjects’ neural activity after they made mistakes.
|The subjects undergo a 20-minute open-monitoring meditation while their brain activity using EEG. / Photo by: Viacheslav Iakobchuk via 123rf|
Error Positivity (Pe)
Lin said further that a neural signal happens about half a second after the person makes a mistake and they called such signal as error positivity. It has been previously linked to people’s conscious perception of error. It is a positive deflection and happens after making an incorrect response. “Errors in human behavior elicit a cascade of brain activity related to performance monitoring and error detection,” the previous study on Pe discussed.
The MSU researchers found that the strength of error positivity is increased among meditators. Although they found no immediate improvement when the meditators are performing the actual task, they believe that the effect will occur if meditation is sustained. Co-author Jason S. Moser said that the result of their research is a “strong demonstration” of what 20 minutes of meditation can do to improve the ability of the brain to pay attention to and detect mistakes.
He added that it makes the meditator more confident while in a mindfulness state, leading them to think that they are capable of actually performing or daily functioning when they are in the moment. The group said that they will be continuing their research with a broader set of participants to determine that changes in the brain caused by meditation can translate to behavioral changes if meditation is performed for long-term practice.
They added that “plenty of work” still needs to be done to consider the benefits of mindfulness from a scientific approach or perspective.
Currently, meditation is known to reduce stress, increase sense of well-being, increase empathy and a sense of connectedness, improve focus, make a person more creative, improve relationships and memory, help overcome addictions, improve ability to make decisions, enhance the immune system, improve cardiovascular health, help find “flow,” which is a rare state of mind or a complete immersion in an activity, reduce emotional and physical pain, and take a person to a state of enlightenment, understanding, and happiness.
Meditation Market: Statistics
Think tank Pew Research Center said that meditation is now common across many religious groups in the United States. Even those who have no religious affiliations at all also meditate at least once a week. Overall, it said that about 40 percent of US adults are meditating at least once a week.
Health products and gadgets platform The Good Body also shared that since 2012, the number of people practicing meditation has already tripled. The practice has even become as popular as yoga in the US. Globally, between 200 million and 500 million people meditate. Based on a 2017 research titled “Use of Yoga, Meditation, and Chiropractors Among US Adults Aged 18 and Over,” yoga is the most popular mind and body practice in the United States with 14.3 percent of the population doing it. This is followed by meditation (14.2 percent), and chiropractic (10.3 percent). Also, more women (16 percent) practice meditation than men (12 percent).
The most dedicated meditators are 16 percent of adults aged 45 to 64. Meanwhile, database company Statista said that the size of the meditation market in the US was only at $0.96 billion in 2015. It increased to $1.08 billion in 2016, $1.21 billion in 2017, and is forecast to be worth around $2.08 billion by 2022.
In December 2018, technology giant Apple revealed that the winning app trend is all about mental well-being and self-care. Notably, the meditation app Calm also won the best iPhone app award in 2017. Some of the popular self-care apps that involve meditation include SHine, Headspace, and Ten Percent Happier. These apps usually have guided meditations, sleep content, videos, and talks related to meditation practice and sessions. Headspace hit its 1 million subscribers mark last June 2018—proof that meditation has really gained ground even among the general public.