Effect on attention and time perception

Kramer, R. S. S., Wegen, U., & Sharma, D. (2013). The effect of mindfulness meditation on time perception. Consciousness and Cognition, 22(3), 846–852. Abstract.

Highlights: • We examined the effect of mindfulness meditation on time perception. • Mindfulness meditation increased perceived duration, therefore slowing time. • A control task had no effect on perceived duration. • Mindfulness meditation altered time perception via attentional processes.

From the Abstract: Research has increasingly focussed on the benefits of meditation in everyday life and performance. Mindfulness in particular improves attention, working memory capacity, and reading comprehension. Given its emphasis on moment-to-moment awareness, we hypothesised that mindfulness meditation would alter time perception.

Using a within-subjects design, participants carried out a temporal bisection task, where several probe durations are compared to “short” and “long” standards. Following this, participants either listened to an audiobook or a meditation that focussed on the movement of breath in the body. Finally, participants completed the temporal bisection task for a second time.

The control group showed no change after the listening task. However, meditation led to a relative overestimation of durations. Within an internal clock framework, a change in attentional resources can produce longer perceived durations. This meditative effect has wider implications for the use of mindfulness as an everyday practice and a basis for clinical treatment.

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