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Erika Scilipoti, Takeo Watanabe; Effects of meditation on consolidation of perceptual learning. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):1017. doi: 10.1167/11.11.1017.
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Meditative practices can enhance visuospatial working memory (Kozhevnikov et al., 2009) and sensory acuity (Kerr et al., 2005). It is thought that these effects are caused by enhanced attention to a given task, due to meditation. However, it is not clear whether meditation facilitates other forms of implicit processing that do not directly relate to attention. Here we investigated the effects of meditation on perceptual learning stabilization that occurs after training on a texture discrimination task (TDT) (Karni and Sagi, 1992). Zen meditators and non-meditators were trained in TDT. Previous studies have reported that learning of TDT with a background orientation (training A) is impaired by subsequent learning of TDT with a different background orientation (training B) (Yotsumoto et al., 2009). It is thought that such impairment is due to the interference effects of training B on the consolidation/stabilization processes of training A (Shadmehr and Holcomb, 1997; Seitz et al., 2005). We examined whether this interference effect could be reduced or overcome by meditation. Participants completed a total of ten sessions that were administered in five consecutive days. Within each day, successive sessions consisted of two training conditions, A and B, that were separated by a 20 minute interval, during which participants were instructed to engage in either meditation or relaxation (“mind-wandering”). The two training conditions differed only in the orientation of background elements. The results show that the amount of interference was smaller for the meditation group compared to relaxation controls. These results suggest that meditation enhances the consolidation process of perceptual learning.
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