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By Karen Nikos-Rose on September 25, 2018

Researchers at UC Davis have found that meditation can improve your ability to pay attention and retain information.

The study followed 60 experienced meditators who attended these three-month meditation retreats and received ongoing instruction in meditation techniques from Buddhist scholar, author and teacher B. Alan Wallace of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies. They attended group meditation sessions twice a day and engaged in individual practice for about six hours a day. 

The study shows that those gains in attention observed immediately after retreat were partly maintained seven years later, especially for older participants who maintained a more diligent meditation practice over the seven years. Compared to those who practiced less, these participants maintained cognitive gains and did not show typical patterns of age-related decline in sustained attention. 

“This study is the first to offer evidence that intensive and continued meditation practice is associated with enduring improvements in sustained attention and response inhibition, with the potential to alter longitudinal trajectories of cognitive change across a person’s life,” said first author Anthony Zanesco, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Miami, who began work on the project before starting his Ph.D. program in psychology at UC Davis. The project is led by Clifford Saron, research scientist at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain, in collaboration with a large group of researchers. 

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