Attentional and affective consequences of technology supported mindfulness training: a randomised, active control, efficacy trial.
ABSTRACT: Mindfulness training (MT) programs represent an approach to attention training with well-validated mental health benefits. However, research supporting MT efficacy is based predominantly on weekly-meeting, facilitator-led, group-intervention formats. It is unknown whether participants might benefit from neurofeedback-assisted, technology-supported MT (N-tsMT), in which meditation is delivered individually, without the need for a facilitator, travel to a training site, or the presence of a supportive group environment. Mirroring the validation of group MT interventions, the first step in addressing this question requires identifying whether N-tsMT promotes measurable benefits. Here, we report on an initial investigation of a commercial N-tsMT system.In a randomized, active control trial, community-dwelling healthy adult participants carried out 6 weeks of daily practice, receiving either N-tsMT (n = 13), or a control condition of daily online math training (n = 13). Training effects were assessed on target measures of attention and well-being. Participants also completed daily post-training surveys assessing effects on mood, body awareness, calm, effort, and stress.Analysis revealed training effects specific to N-tsMT, with attentional improvements in overall reaction time on a Stroop task, and well-being improvements via reduced somatic symptoms on the Brief Symptom Inventory. Attention and well-being improvements were correlated, and effects were greatest for the most neurotic participants. However, secondary, exploratory measures of attention and well-being did not show training-specific effects. N-tsMT was associated with greater body awareness and calm, and initially greater effort that later converged with effort in the control condition.Preliminary findings indicate that N-tsMT promotes modest benefits for attention and subjective well-being in a healthy community sample relative to an active control condition. However, the findings would benefit from replication in a larger sample, and more intensive practice or more comprehensive MT instruction might be required to promote the broader benefits typically reported in group format, facilitated MT.Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN43629398 . Retrospectively registered on June 16, 2016.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Mindfulness training (MT) includes a variety of contemplative practices aimed at promoting intentional awareness of experience, coupled with attitudes of nonjudgment and curiosity. Following the success of 8-week, manualized group interventions, MT has been implemented in a variety of modalities, including smartphone apps that seek to replicate the success of group interventions. However, although smartphone apps are scalable and accessible to a wider swath of population, their benefits remain largely untested. OBJECTIVE:This study aimed to investigate a newly developed MT app called Wildflowers, which was codeveloped with the laboratory for use in mindfulness research. It was hypothesized that 3 weeks of MT through this app would improve subjective well-being, attentional control, and interoceptive integration, albeit with weaker effects than those published in the 8 week, manualized group intervention literature. METHODS:Undergraduate students completed 3 weeks of MT with Wildflowers (n=45) or 3 weeks of cognitive training with a game called 2048 (n=41). State training effects were assessed through pre- and postsession ratings of current mood, stress level, and heart rate. Trait training effects were assessed through pre- and postintervention questionnaires canvassing subjective well-being and behavioral task measures of attentional control and interoceptive integration. State and trait training data were analyzed in a multilevel model using emergent latent factors (acceptance, awareness, and openness) to summarize the trait questionnaire battery. RESULTS:Analyses revealed both state and trait effects specific to MT; participants engaging in MT demonstrated improved mood (r=.14) and a reduction of stress (r=-.13) immediately after each training session compared with before the training session and decreased postsession stress over 3 weeks (r=-.08). In addition, MT relative to cognitive training resulted in greater improvements in attentional control (r=-.24). Interestingly, both groups demonstrated increased subjective ratings of awareness (r=.28) and acceptance (r=.23) from pre- to postintervention, with greater changes in acceptance for the MT group trending (r=.21). CONCLUSIONS:MT, using a smartphone app, may provide immediate effects on mood and stress while also providing long-term benefits for attentional control. Although further investigation is warranted, there is evidence that with continued usage, MT via a smartphone app may provide long-term benefits in changing how one relates to their inner and outer experiences. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03783793; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03783793 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/75EF2ehst).
Project description:Regular mindfulness practice benefits people both mentally and physically, but many populations who could benefit do not practice mindfulness. Virtual Reality (VR) is a new technology that helps capture participants' attention and gives users the illusion of "being there" in the 3D computer generated environment, facilitating sense of presence. By limiting distractions from the real world, increasing sense of presence and giving people an interesting place to go to practice mindfulness, Virtual Reality may facilitate mindfulness practice. Traditional Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT®) mindfulness skills training was specifically designed for clinical treatment of people who have trouble focusing attention, however severe patients often show difficulties or lack of motivation to practice mindfulness during the training. The present pilot study explored whether a sample of mindfulness experts would find useful and recommend a new VR Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT®) mindfulness skills training technique and whether they would show any benefit. Forty four participants attending a mindfulness conference put on an Oculus Rift DK2 Virtual Reality helmet and floated down a calm 3D computer generated virtual river while listening to digitized DBT® mindfulness skills training instructions. On subjective questionnaires completed by the participants before and after the VR DBT® mindfulness skills training session, participants reported increases/improvements in state of mindfulness, and reductions in negative emotional states. After VR, participants reported significantly less sadness, anger, and anxiety, and reported being significantly more relaxed. Participants reported a moderate to strong illusion of going inside the 3D computer generated world (i.e., moderate to high "presence" in VR) and showed high acceptance of VR as a technique to practice mindfulness. These results show encouraging preliminary evidence of the feasibility and acceptability of using VR to practice mindfulness based on clinical expert feedback. VR is a technology with potential to increase computerized dissemination of DBT® skills training modules. Future research is warranted.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Prosthetic hands impose a high cognitive burden on the user that often results in fatigue, frustration and prosthesis rejection. However, efforts to directly measure this burden are sparse and little is known about the mechanisms behind it. There is also a lack of evidence-based training interventions designed to improve prosthesis hand control and reduce the mental effort required to use them. In two experiments, we provide the first direct evaluation of this cognitive burden using measurements of EEG and eye-tracking (Experiment 1), and then explore how a novel visuomotor intervention (gaze training; GT) might alleviate it (Experiment 2). METHODS:In Experiment 1, able-bodied participants (n = 20) lifted and moved a jar, first using their anatomical hand and then using a myoelectric prosthetic hand simulator. In experiment 2, a GT group (n = 12) and a movement training (MT) group (n = 12) trained with the prosthetic hand simulator over three one hour sessions in a picking up coins task, before returning for retention, delayed retention and transfer tests. The GT group received instruction regarding how to use their eyes effectively, while the MT group received movement-related instruction typical in rehabilitation. RESULTS:Experiment 1 revealed that when using the prosthetic hand, participants performed worse, exhibited spatial and temporal disruptions to visual attention, and exhibited a global decrease in EEG alpha power (8-12 Hz), suggesting increased cognitive effort. Experiment 2 showed that GT was the more effective method for expediting prosthesis learning, optimising visual attention, and lowering conscious control - as indexed by reduced T7-Fz connectivity. Whilst the MT group improved performance, they did not reduce hand-focused visual attention and showed increased conscious movement control. The superior benefits of GT transferred to a more complex tea-making task. CONCLUSIONS:These experiments quantify the visual and cortical mechanisms relating to the cognitive burden experienced during prosthetic hand control. They also evidence the efficacy of a GT intervention that alleviated this burden and promoted better learning and transfer, compared to typical rehabilitation instructions. These findings have theoretical and practical implications for prosthesis rehabilitation, the development of emerging prosthesis technologies and for the general understanding of human-tool interactions.
Project description:Interactive and immersive technologies such as video games, exergames, and virtual reality are typically regarded as entertainment mediums. They also offer a multitude of health and well-being benefits. They have the capacity to incorporate established well-being techniques (e.g., mindfulness, exercise, and play) and expose users to beneficial environment settings with greater ease, improved access, and a broader appeal. The authors conducted a scoping review to explore whether these technologies could be used to benefit attention in healthy adults, that is, in a regulatory sense such as during periods of cognitive fatigue or attention-critical tasks. Research efforts have typically focused on long-term practice methods for attention enhancement with these technologies. Instead, this review provides the first attempt to unify a broad range of investigations concerned with their immediate impact on attention through state-change mechanisms. This applies the concept of attention state training and a growing evidence base, which suggests that meditative practices, exercise bouts, and nature exposures can provide short-term improvements in attentional performance following brief interactions. A systematic search of MEDLINE, Embase, and PsycINFO databases resulted in 11 peer-reviewed articles (13 experimental trials) each including at least one objective measure of attention directly following the use of an interactive or immersive technology. Most studies involved interactive technologies (i.e., video games and exergames), whereas there were three immersive interventions in the form of virtual reality. The comparisons between baseline and postintervention showed mostly no effect on attention, although there were five cases of improved attention. There were no instances of negative effects on attention. The results are significant considering mounting concerns that technology use could be detrimental for cognitive functioning. The positive effects reported here indicate a need to specify the type of technology in question and bring attention to positive vs. negative technology interactions. Implications for the literature concerning attention state training are discussed considering promising effects of technology exposures geared toward flow state induction. Significant gaps in the literature are identified regarding the implementation of traditional attention state training practices.
Project description:Traditionally, the care of infants in neonatal care units has been professionally centered, paying less attention to family support. In recent years, many interventions have been developed to improve family-centered care and thereby parent and infant outcomes. Understanding the key factors of implementation of these interventions would help improve clinical practice. The aim of this study was to describe the staff's perceptions of the implementation of the Close Collaboration with Parents Training Program and to identify the barriers and facilitators of the implementation. A descriptive qualitative interview study was conducted in eight neonatal intensive care units in Finland. Nineteen unit managers and 32 nurses were interviewed after their unit had finished the 1.5-year training program. Data were analyzed using thematic content analysis. Key factors facilitating the implementation of the training program were multidisciplinary commitment and the staff's motivation to change their professional role to work as the parents' facilitator. Observable benefits promoted the implementation, as well as experiential learning as a facilitation method. The role of mentor was remarkable as a facilitator. In addition, contextual elements such as support from leadership and proper timing were important. Implementation of family-centered care is facilitated by staff who is prepared to accept parents as partners and adopt a new professional role. Enough time for preparation, readiness for the change, solid support from the leadership, and a multidisciplinary approach are needed as well. Mentoring was found to be one of the key factors facilitating the change.
Project description:Mutated receptor tyrosine kinases (MT-RTKs) such as internal tandem duplication of FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3 ITD) and a point mutation KIT D816V are driver mutations for acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Clathrin assembly lymphoid myeloid leukemia protein (CALM) regulates intracellular transport of RTKs, however, the precise role for MT-RTKs remains elusive. We here show that CALM knock down leads to severely impaired FLT3 ITD- or KIT D814V-dependent cell growth compared to marginal influence on wild-type FLT3- or KIT-mediated cell growth. An antipsychotic drug chlorpromazine (CPZ) suppresses the growth of primary AML samples, and human CD34+CD38- AML cells including AML initiating cells with MT-RTKs in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, CPZ reduces CALM protein at post transcriptional level and perturbs the intracellular localization of MT-RTKs, thereby blocking their signaling. Our study presents a therapeutic strategy for AML with MT-RTKs by altering the intracellular localization of MT-RTKs using CPZ.
Project description:Virtual reality offers a good possibility for the implementation of real-life tasks in a laboratory-based training or testing scenario. Thus, a computerized training in a driving simulator offers an ecological valid training approach. Visual attention had an influence on driving performance, so we used the reverse approach to test the influence of a driving training on visual attention and executive functions. Thirty-seven healthy older participants (mean age: 71.46?±?4.09; gender: 17 men and 20 women) took part in our controlled experimental study. We examined transfer effects from a four-week driving training (three times per week) on visual attention, executive function, and motor skill. Effects were analyzed using an analysis of variance with repeated measurements. Therefore, main factors were group and time to show training-related benefits of our intervention. Results revealed improvements for the intervention group in divided visual attention; however, there were benefits neither in the other cognitive domains nor in the additional motor task. Thus, there are no broad training-induced transfer effects from such an ecologically valid training regime. This lack of findings could be addressed to insufficient training intensities or a participant-induced bias following the cancelled randomization process.
Project description:Identifying neurocognitive mechanisms underlying optimism bias is essential to understand its benefits for well-being and mental health. The combined cognitive biases hypothesis suggests that biases (e.g., in expectancies and attention) interact and mutually enforce each other. Whereas, in line with this hypothesis, optimistic expectancies have been shown to guide attention to positive information, reverse causal effects have not been investigated yet. Revealing such bidirectional optimism-attention interactions both on a behavioral and neural level could explain how cognitive biases contribute to a self-sustaining upward spiral of positivity. In this behavioral study, we hypothesized that extensive training to direct attention to positive information enhances optimism bias. To test this hypothesis, for 2 weeks, 149 participants underwent either daily online 80-trial attention bias modification training (ABMT) toward accepting faces and away from rejecting faces or neutral control training. Participants in the ABMT group were instructed to click as quickly as possible on the accepting face among 15 rejecting faces randomly displayed on a 4-by-4 matrix; participants in the control group were instructed to click on the five-petaled flower depicted among 15 seven-petaled flowers. Comparative optimism bias and state optimism were measured via questionnaires before training, after one training week, and after two training weeks. ABMT enhanced comparative optimism bias, whereas control training did not. Our findings reveal that ABMT toward positive social information causally influences comparative optimism bias and may, thereby trigger the biases' benefits for well-being and mental health. These results can (a) stimulate future neurophysiological research in the area of positive psychology; and (b) reveal an innovative low-cost and easy-to-access intervention that may support psychotherapy in times of rising numbers of patients with psychological disorders.
Project description:This randomized controlled study (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02007616) investigated the maintenance of training effects of 20 1-hr non-action video game training sessions with selected games from a commercial package on several age-declining cognitive functions and subjective wellbeing after a 3-month no-contact period. Two groups of cognitively normal older adults participated in both the post-training (posttest) and the present follow-up study, the experimental group who received training and the control group who attended several meetings with the research team during the study but did not receive training. Groups were similar at baseline on demographics, vocabulary, global cognition, and depression status. Significant improvements in the trained group, and no variation in the control group had been previously found at posttest, in processing speed, attention and visual recognition memory, as well as in two dimensions of subjective wellbeing. In the current study, improvement from baseline to 3 months follow-up was found only in wellbeing (Affection and Assertivity dimensions) in the trained group whereas there was no change in the control group. Previous significant improvements in processing speed, attention and spatial memory become non-significant after the 3-month interval. Training older adults with non-action video games enhanced aspects of cognition just after training but this effect disappeared after a 3-month no-contact follow-up period. Cognitive plasticity can be induced in older adults by training, but to maintain the benefits periodic boosting sessions would be necessary.
Project description:We investigated the impact of mindfulness training (MT) on attentional performance lapses associated with task-unrelated thought (i.e., mind wandering). Periods of persistent and intensive demands may compromise attention and increase off-task thinking. Here, we investigated if MT may mitigate these deleterious effects and promote cognitive resilience in military cohorts enduring a high-demand interval of predeployment training. To better understand which aspects of MT programs are most beneficial, three military cohorts were examined. Two of the three groups were provided MT. One group received an 8-hour, 8-week variant of Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training (MMFT) emphasizing engagement in training exercises (training-focused MT, n = 40), a second group received a didactic-focused variant emphasizing content regarding stress and resilience (didactic-focused MT, n = 40), and the third group served as a no-training control (NTC, n = 24). Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART) performance was indexed in all military groups and a no-training civilian group (CIV, n = 45) before (T1) and after (T2) the MT course period. Attentional performance (measured by A', a sensitivity index) was lower in NTC vs. CIV at T2, suggesting that performance suffers after enduring a high-demand predeployment interval relative to a similar time period of civilian life. Yet, there were significantly fewer performance lapses in the military cohorts receiving MT relative to NTC, with training-focused MT outperforming didactic-focused MT at T2. From T1 to T2, A' degraded in NTC and didactic-focused MT but remained stable in training-focused MT and CIV. In sum, while protracted periods of high-demand military training may increase attentional performance lapses, practice-focused MT programs akin to training-focused MT may bolster attentional performance more than didactic-focused programs. As such, training-focused MT programs should be further examined in cohorts experiencing protracted high-demand intervals.