The Effect of Mindfulness-based Programs on Cognitive Function in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Author: Tim Whitfield1, Thorsten Barnhofer#2, Rebecca Acabchuk#3, Avi Cohen4, Michael Lee4, Marco Schlosser4,5, Eider M Arenaza-Urquijo6, Adriana Böttcher7, Willoughby Britton8, Nina Coll-Padros9, Fabienne Collette10, Gaël Chételat11, Sophie Dautricourt11, Harriet Demnitz-King4, Travis Dumais12, Olga Klimecki5, Dix Meiberth13, Inès Moulinet11, Theresa Müller13, Elizabeth Parsons4, Lauren Sager12, Lena Sannemann13, Jodi Scharf12, Ann-Katrin Schild13, Edelweiss Touron11, Miranka Wirth7, Zuzana Walker4,14, Ethan Moitra8, Antoine Lutz15, Sara W Lazar16, David Vago17, Natalie L Marchant4
Affiliation: <sup>1</sup> Division of Psychiatry, University College London, London, UK. <sup>2</sup> School of Psychology, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK. <sup>3</sup> Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, USA. <sup>4</sup> Division of Psychiatry, University College London, London, UK. <sup>5</sup> Geneva School of Social Sciences, and Swiss Center for Affective Sciences, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland. <sup>6</sup> Department of Radiology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA. <sup>7</sup> German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), Dresden, Germany. <sup>8</sup> Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA. <sup>9</sup> Alzheimers Disease and Other Cognitive Disorders Unit, Hospital Clínic, Institut d Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi I Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Barcelona, Spain. <sup>10</sup> GIGA-CRC, In Vivo Imaging, Universite de Liege, Liege, Belgium. <sup>11</sup> INSERM UMR-S U1237, Caen-Normandie University, GIP Cyceron, Caen, France. <sup>12</sup> School of Public Health, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA. <sup>13</sup> Department of Psychiatry, Medical Faculty, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany. <sup>14</sup> Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, Wickford, UK. <sup>15</sup> Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, INSERM U1028, CNRS UMR5292, Lyon 1 University, Lyon, France. <sup>16</sup> Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA. <sup>17</sup> Department of Physical Medicine &amp; Rehabilitation, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA.
Conference/Journal: Neuropsychol Rev
Date published: 2021 Aug 4
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1007/s11065-021-09519-y. , Word Count: 199

Mindfulness-based programs (MBPs) are increasingly utilized to improve mental health. Interest in the putative effects of MBPs on cognitive function is also growing. This is the first meta-analysis of objective cognitive outcomes across multiple domains from randomized MBP studies of adults. Seven databases were systematically searched to January 2020. Fifty-six unique studies (n = 2,931) were included, of which 45 (n = 2,238) were synthesized using robust variance estimation meta-analysis. Meta-regression and subgroup analyses evaluated moderators. Pooling data across cognitive domains, the summary effect size for all studies favored MBPs over comparators and was small in magnitude (g = 0.15; [0.05, 0.24]). Across subgroup analyses of individual cognitive domains/subdomains, MBPs outperformed comparators for executive function (g = 0.15; [0.02, 0.27]) and working memory outcomes (g = 0.23; [0.11, 0.36]) only. Subgroup analyses identified significant effects for studies of non-clinical samples, as well as for adults aged over 60. Across all studies, MBPs outperformed inactive, but not active comparators. Limitations include the primarily unclear within-study risk of bias (only a minority of studies were considered low risk), and that statistical constraints rendered some p-values unreliable. Together, results partially corroborate the hypothesized link between mindfulness practices and cognitive performance. This review was registered with PROSPERO [CRD42018100904].

Keywords: Aging; Elder; Intervention; Meditation; Mindfulness; Neuropsychology.

PMID: 34350544 DOI: 10.1007/s11065-021-09519-y