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The EEG spectral properties of meditation and mind wandering differ between experienced meditators and novices

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

Previous literature suggests that individuals with meditation training become less distracted during meditation practice. In this study, we assess whether putative differences in the subjective experience of meditation between meditators and non-meditators are reflected in EEG spectral modulations. For this purpose, we recorded electroencephalography (EEG) during rest and two breath focus meditations (with and without experience sampling) in a group of 29 adult participants with more than 3 years of meditation experience and a control group of 29 participants without any meditation experience. Experience sampling in one of the meditation conditions allowed us to disentangle periods of breath focus from mind wandering (i.e. moments of distraction driven by task-irrelevant thoughts) during meditation practice. Overall, meditators reported a greater level of focus and reduced mind wandering during meditation practice than controls. In line with these reports, EEG spectral modulations associated with meditation and mind wandering also differed significantly between meditators and controls. While meditators (but not controls) showed a significant decrease in individual alpha frequency / amplitude and a steeper 1/f slope during meditation relative to rest, controls (but not meditators) showed a relative increase in individual alpha amplitude during mind wandering relative to breath focus periods. Together, our results show that the subjective experience of meditation and mind wandering differs between meditators and novices and that this is reflected in oscillatory and non-oscillatory properties of EEG.
Volume: 245
Jaar van publicatie:2021