Immediate and long-term effects of meditation on acute stress reactivity, cognitive functions, and intelligence.
ABSTRACT With the current globalization of the world's economy and demands for enhanced performance, stress is present universally. Life's stressful events and daily stresses cause both deleterious and cumulative effects on the human body. The practice of meditation might offer a way to relieve that stress.
The research team intended to study the effects of meditation on stress-induced changes in physiological parameters, cognitive functions, intelligence, and emotional quotients.
The research team conducted the study in two phases, with a month between them. Each participant served as his own control, and the first phase served as the control for the second phase. In phase 1, the research team studied the effects of a stressor (10 minutes playing a computer game) on participants' stress levels. In phase 2, the research team examined the effects of meditation on stress levels.
The research team conducted the study in a lab setting at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, India.
The participants were 34 healthy, male volunteers who were students.
To study the effects of long-term meditation on stress levels, intelligence, emotional quotients, and cognitive functions participants meditated daily for 1 month, between phases 1 and 2. To study the immediate effects of meditation on stress levels, participants meditated for 15 minutes after playing a computer game to induce stress.
The research team measured galvanic skin response (GSR), heart rate (HR), and salivary cortisol and administered tests for the intelligence and emotional quotients (IQ and EQ), acute and perceived stress (AS and PS), and cognitive functions (ie, the Sternberg memory test [short-term memory] and the Stroop test [cognitive flexibility]). Using a pre-post study design, the team performed this testing (1) prior to the start of the study (baseline); (2) in phase 1, after induced stress; (3) in part 1 of phase 2, after 1 month of daily meditation, and (4) in part 2 of phase 2, after induced stress, both before and after 15 minutes of meditation.
Induced stress from the computer game resulted in a significant increase in physiological markers of stress such as GSR and HR. In the short term, meditation was associated with a physiological relaxation response (significant decrease in GSR) and an improvement in scores on the Stroop test of reaction times. In the long-term, meditation brought significant improvements in IQ and scores for cognitive functions, whereas participants' stress levels (GSR and AS) decreased. EQ, salivary cortisol, and HR showed no significant changes.
The practice of meditation reduced psychological stress responses and improved cognitive functions, and the effects were pronounced with practice of meditation for a longer duration (1 month).
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ABSTRACT: The 47-item positive mental health (PMH) instrument measures the level of PMH in multiethnic adult Asian populations. This study aimed to (1) develop a short PMH instrument and (2) establish its validity and reliability among the adult Singapore population. Two separate studies were conducted among adult community-dwelling Singapore residents of Chinese, Malay or Indian ethnicity where participants completed self-administered questionnaires. In the first study, secondary data analysis was conducted using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to shorten the PMH instrument. In the second study, the newly developed short PMH instrument and other scales were administered to 201 residents to establish its factor structure, validity and reliability. A 20-item short PMH instrument fulfilling a higher-order six-factor structure was developed following secondary analysis. The mean age of the participants in the second study was 41 years and about 53 % were women. One item with poor factor loading was further removed to generate a 19-item version of the PMH instrument. CFA demonstrated a first-order six-factor model of the short PMH instrument. The PMH-19 instrument and its subscales fulfilled criterion validity hypotheses. Internal consistency and test-retest reliability of the PMH-19 instrument were high (Cronbach's α coefficient = 0.87; intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.93, respectively). The 19-item PMH instrument is multidimensional, valid and reliable, and most importantly, with its reduced administration time, the short PMH instrument can be used to measure and evaluate PMH in Asian communities.Quality of Life Research 12/2013; 23(5). DOI:10.1007/s11136-013-0589-0 · 2.86 Impact Factor