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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
Volume48
Early online date12 Nov 2016
DOIs
Accepted/In press21 Oct 2016
E-pub ahead of print12 Nov 2016
Published1 Feb 2017

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Abstract

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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