Meditation can help you make fewer mistakes, study reveals

research shows that practising mindful meditation can boost error detective capability of the brain and helps to make fewer mistakes

Meditation helps to prevent heart disease
representational picture. Reuters

If you often forget things and make mistakes in a hurry then sparing a few minutes for mindfulness can be a solution to your problems as a study claims meditation can help a person become less error-prone. The largest study of its kind to date by researchers from Michigan State University found that meditation altered brain activity in a way that increased error recognition.

The findings published in journal Brain Sciences tested the effect of meditation that focuses awareness on feelings, thoughts, and sensations as they unfold in a person's mind and body to conclude that "a guided session of meditation produces changes to brain activity in non-meditators".

"Some forms of meditation have you focus on a single object, commonly your breath, but open-monitoring meditation is a bit different," study author and MSU psychology doctoral candidate Jeff Lin explained, suggesting the practice had people tune inward and pay attention to everything going on in their mind and body.

"The goal is to sit quietly and pay close attention to where the mind travels without getting too caught up in the scenery," said Lin, who along with co-authors William Eckerle, Ling Peng and Jason Moser examined in more than 200 participants how open-monitoring meditation affected people's response to errors.

The researchers in a 20-minute open-monitoring meditation exercise scanned the brain activity of participants, who had never meditated before, through electroencephalography (EEG), which measures brain activity at the millisecond level, to get a precise measure of neural activity right after mistakes compared to correct responses.

Lin said a certain neural signal occurred about half a second after an error called the error positivity linked with conscious error recognition. "The strength of this signal is increased in meditators relative to controls." "People's interest in meditation and mindfulness is outpacing what science can prove in terms of effects and benefits," stressed Lin.

The findings suggested that different forms of meditation have different neurocognitive effects, Lin continued, underscoring a need for further research about how open-monitoring meditation impacted error recognition. Moser said the findings were a strong demonstration of what just 20 minutes of meditation could do to enhance the brain's ability to detect and pay attention to mistakes.

According to Lin, the next phase of research will include a broader group of participants to test different forms of meditation and determine whether changes in brain activity can translate to behavioural changes with more long-term practice.

Another research published in journal PLoS One has established that meditation can change the way a person perceives the passing of time and suggested that mindfulness meditation can be instrumental in determining how people perceive time. There have been numerous studies linking practising meditation with an increase in happiness, a decrease in anxiety and depression including many more behavioural changes.

Researchers say mixing mindfulness meditation with psilocybin, a well-known hallucinogen found in magic mushrooms, may make for a new form of therapy to treat depression as psilocybin takers during another study had more positive changes related to aspects such as empathy, self-acceptance, and psychosocial functioning.