Meditation-naïve participants (n=45) will be recruited from Auburn University. Once recruited, participants will be randomized to either the meditation group, the active control group, or the inactive control group. Every effort will be made to promote engagement and reduce attrition, including offering extra credit in psychology classes along with monetary incentives. Each EEG and psychophysiological data collection session will follow an identical procedure and be scheduled every month following meditation training. The data collection procedure will involve participants engaging in two active tasks and one control task while continuous EEG and psychophysiological data is collected: a 20 minute FAM, the Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART), and a period of eyes-closed rest. During the FAM, participants will be asked to press a button every time they notice their mind has wandered away from the sensations of their breath. The SART involves participants responding with a button press each time they see a common non-target letter appear on a computer screen and withhold their response when they see the rare target letter. After randomization and before the first EEG and psychophysiological data collection period, participants will be taught either a FAM, the active control task, or no task. The FAM is a simple type of meditation that involves practitioners focusing their attention on the sensations of the breath entering the nostrils, noticing when their mind has wandered away from those sensations, and then returning their attention to the breath. The active control task will require participants engage in one of a few select everyday activities (e.g., TV watching, studying) while at the same time noticing when their mind has wandered away from that task. Following the first session, participants will be required to practice the FAM or the control task for 20 minutes at least three times per week at home. While they practice at home, they will be instructed to log onto a secure website or mobile application and press a button each time they notice their mind has wandered away from their breath or the control task. Data collection sessions will occur once a month for four consecutive months at the same time and day of the week, including (1) before participants are randomized to one of the two conditions, (2) one month after FAM or control task training, (3) two months after training and daily practice, (4) and three months after training and one month after daily practice requirements have been lifted.

Spencer Fix

University of North Carolina–Charlotte

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