Mindfulness training as cognitive training in high-demand cohorts: An initial study in elite military servicemembers.

Author: Zanesco AP1, Denkova E1, Rogers SL2, MacNulty WK3, Jha AP4
1Department of Psychology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, United States.
2School of Law, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, United States.
3United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Rockville, MD, United States.
4Department of Psychology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, United States. Electronic address: a.jha@miami.edu.
Conference/Journal: Prog Brain Res.
Date published: 2019
Other: Volume ID: 244 , Pages: 323-354 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/bs.pbr.2018.10.001. Epub 2018 Nov 27. , Word Count: 210

Cognitive ability is a key selection criterion for entry into many elite professions. Herein, we investigate whether mindfulness training (MT) can enhance cognitive performance in elite military forces. The cognitive effects of a short-form 8-h MT program contextualized for military cohorts, referred to as Mindfulness-Based Attention Training (MBAT), were assessed. Servicemembers received either a 2-week (n=40) or 4-week (n=36) version of MBAT or no training (NTC, n=44). Sustained attention and working memory task performance along with self-reported cognitive failures were assessed at study onset (T1) and 8-weeks later (T2). In contrast to both the NTC and 2-week MT groups, the 4-week MT group significantly improved over time on attention and working memory outcome measures. Among the 4-week more so than the 2-week MBAT participants, working memory performance improvements were correlated with their amount of out-of-class MT practice. In addition to these group-wise effects, all participants receiving MBAT decreased in their self-reported cognitive failures from T1 to T2. Importantly, none of these improvements were related to self-reported task motivation. Together, these results suggest that short-form MT, when delivered over a 4-week delivery schedule, may be an effective cognitive training tool in elite military cohorts.

© 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

KEYWORDS: Attention; Cognitive training; Mindfulness; Working memory

PMID: 30732844 DOI: 10.1016/bs.pbr.2018.10.001