The influence of focused-attention meditation states on the cognitive control of sequence learning.
Conscious Cogn. 2017 Jul 24 ;55:11-25. Epub 2017 Jul 24. PMID: 28750361
Russell W Chan
Cognitive control processes influence how motor sequence information is utilised and represented. Since cognitive control processes are shared amongst goal-oriented tasks, motor sequence learning and performance might be influenced by preceding cognitive tasks such as focused-attention meditation (FAM). Prior to a serial reaction time task (SRTT), participants completed either a single-session of FAM, a single-session of FAM followed by delay (FAM+) or no meditation (CONTROL). Relative to CONTROL, FAM benefitted performance in early, random-ordered blocks. However, across subsequent sequence learning blocks, FAM+ supported the highest levels of performance improvement resulting in superior performance at the end of the SRTT. Performance following FAM+ demonstrated greater reliance on embedded sequence structures than FAM. These findings illustrate that increased top-down control immediately after FAM biases the implementation of stimulus-based planning. Introduction of a delay following FAM relaxes top-down control allowing for implementation of response-based planning resulting in sequence learning benefits.