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The mindful eye: Smooth pursuit and saccadic eye movements in meditators and non-meditators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Veena Kumari, Elena Antonova, Bernice Wright, Aseel Hamid, Eva Machado Hernandez, Anne Schmechtig, Ulrich Ettinger

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-75
Number of pages10
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Early online date12 Nov 2016
Accepted/In press21 Oct 2016
E-pub ahead of print12 Nov 2016
Published1 Feb 2017


King's Authors


Background This study examined the effects of cultivated (i.e. developed through training) and dispositional (trait) mindfulness on smooth pursuit (SPEM) and antisaccade (AS) tasks known to engage the fronto-parietal network implicated in attentional and motion detection processes, and the fronto-striatal network implicated in cognitive control, respectively. Methods Sixty healthy men (19–59 years), of whom 30 were experienced mindfulness practitioners and 30 meditation-naïve, underwent infrared oculographic assessment of SPEM and AS performance. Trait mindfulness was assessed using the self-report Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ). Results Meditators, relative to meditation-naïve individuals, made significantly fewer catch-up and anticipatory saccades during the SPEM task, and had significantly lower intra-individual variability in gain and spatial error during the AS task. No SPEM or AS measure correlated significantly with FFMQ scores in meditation-naïve individuals. Conclusions Cultivated, but not dispositional, mindfulness is associated with improved attention and sensorimotor control as indexed by SPEM and AS tasks.

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