Time Perception Changes During Open Monitoring but not Focused Attention Meditation: A Result of Attentional Scope Dilation

The Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80903

This study explores how our perception of time expands and contracts as a result of different styles of meditation. Examining the relationship between time and meditation is important not only for deepening our understanding of meditation’s cognitive effects, but also for determining which style of meditation may be best suited for differing individuals who wish to make it a consistent practice. Experienced meditators discriminated the duration of auditory tones, characterizing them as either long or short based on the duration of a previously learned anchor tone. This task, referred to as a temporal bisection paradigm, was completed by meditators while engaging in open monitoring meditation, focused attention meditation, and a control audiobook listening condition. Significant underestimation of durations was observed in the open monitoring condition in comparison to the audiobook control. No such difference was observed in the focused attention meditation. Significant negative correlations between the power of neural oscillations in the low theta range (4-6 Hz), as measured by EEG, and duration overestimation were found in all three conditions. These findings may reflect a widening of attentional scope elicited by open monitoring but not focused attention meditation. In addition, increased posterior theta power may be an indicator of such attentional dilation.

Abbreviations: EEG – Electroencephalography; FA – Focused Attention; OM – Open Monitoring; BMIS – Brief Mood Introspective Scale; TB – Temporal Bisection; ROI – Region of Interest 

Moeller, 2021.pdf2.17 MB