Mindfulness May Make the Memory Less Accurate

Medical Xpress – the web based medical and health based news service – has produced an article on the surprising after-effects of practising mindfulness meditation, first popularised by Buddhism and now rapidly spreading throughout society.

 

Mindfulness meditation is associated with all sorts of benefits to mental and physical well-being, but a new study suggests that it may also come with a particular downside for memory. The findings, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, show that participants who engaged in a 15-minute mindfulness meditation session were less able to differentiate items they actually encountered from items they only imagined.

Wilson and colleagues wondered whether the very mechanism that seems to underlie the benefits of mindfulness – judgment-free thoughts and feelings – might also affect people’s ability to determine the origin of a given memory. Some memories originate from an external source, such as an actual experience of eating an omelet for breakfast. But other memories originate from an internal source, such as imagining the experience of eating an omelet for breakfast.

“When memories of imagined and real experiences too closely resemble each other, people can have difficulty determining which is which, and this can lead to falsely remembering imagined experiences as actual experiences,” Wilson explains.

The article details the results of 3 experiments on undergraduates, and the possible conclusions that may be drawn from them.

 

After the guided exercise in the first experiment, 153 participants studied a list of 15 words related to the concept of trash (e.g., garbage, waste, can, refuse, sewage, rubbish, etc.) – importantly, the list did not actually include the critical word “trash.” Participants were then asked to recall as many of the words from the list as they could remember.

The results revealed that 39% of the mindfulness participants falsely recalled seeing the word “trash” on the list compared to only 20% of the mind-wandering participants.

To read more please visit Medical Xpress’s website at http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-09-mindfulness-memories-accurate.html.

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