The Effect of Meditation on Visual and Auditory Sustained Attention
Failures of attention can be hazardous, especially within the workplace where sustaining attention has become an increasingly important skill. This has produced a necessity for the development of methods to improve attention. One such method is the practice of meditation. Previous research has shown that meditation can produce beneficial changes to attention and associated brain regions. In particular, sustained attention has shown to be significantly improved by meditation. While this effect has shown to occur in the visual modality, there is less research on the effects of meditation and auditory sustained attention. Furthermore, there is currently no research which examines meditation on crossmodal sustained attention. This is relevant not only because visual and auditory are perceived simultaneously in reality, but also as it may assist in the debate as to whether sustained attention is managed by modality-specific systems or a single overarching supramodal system. The current research was conducted to examine the effects of meditation on visual, auditory and audiovisual crossmodal sustained attention by using variants of the Sustained Attention to Response Task. In these tasks subjects were presented with either visual, auditory, or a combination of visual and auditory stimuli, and were required to respond to infrequent targets over an extended period of time. It was found that for all of the tasks, meditators significantly differed in accuracy compared to non-meditating control groups. The meditators made less errors without sacrificing response speed, with the exception of the Auditory-target crossmodal task. This demonstrates the benefit of meditation for improving sustained attention across sensory modalities and also lends support to the argument that sustained attention is governed by a supramodal system rather than modality-specific systems.