Technology-mediated mindfulness intervention: psychometric and electrophysiological evidences from a longitudinal study

Davide Crivelli, Michela Balconi, Irene Venturella, Alessandra Coniglio, Marina Ballerio

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

By regularly practicing self-observation and by promoting bodily awareness and awareness of automatic responses (e.g. uncontrolled affective reactions) it is possible to empower self-monitoring and regulation skills, as well as our ability to manage stress coming from everyday events and activities. Further, it has also been shown that regular practice of mindfulness and awareness-based activities helps to reduce discomfort and pathological manifestations in clinical contexts (e.g. chronic pain, depression relapses). Nonetheless, it is worth noting that traditional mindfulness and awareness-based protocols do require rather intense exercise and constant commitment: two aspects that often lead to a gradual decrease of motivation and, consequently, to the suspension of individual practices. The impact of such limitations might be reduced thanks to the support of external devices able to make practice less demanding and to track individual progresses over time, thus lowering the requested effort. The study thus aims at testing the potential of an intensive intervention based on awareness practices and supported by a wearable device on cognitive-affective profile and stress levels. Forty university students presenting mild stress levels took part in the study and were randomly divided in an active control and an experimental group. Both groups were involved in a structured intervention, which lasted 4 weeks and was constituted by brief daily activities. The experimental group, differently from the active control one, underwent mindfulness-based practices with the support of a dedicated device. Short-term effects of the intervention on perceived stress, cognitive performances, and electroencephalographic (EEG) profile have been explored by comparing pre- and post-intervention assessments. Specific resting-state and task-related electrophysiological indices have been computed to investigate potential improvement of neural efficiency. In particular, we focused on a measure of system responsiveness (namely, a quantification of the alpha blocking phenomenon), on a measure related to the balance between relaxation and activation correlates (namely, the alpha-beta ratio), and on event-related attention and executive control measures (namely, the amplitudes of the N2 deflection). Analyses highlighted increased electrophysiological responsiveness indices and frequency profiles consistent with a relaxed mindset in the experimental group. Participants in the experimental group also showed improved attention responses. Even perceived stress proved to be positively modulated by the experimental intervention, as well as cognitive efficiency as measured by a complex reaction times task. Findings suggest that the intensive technology-mediated mindfulness intervention might have been effective at promoting subjective well-being in people presenting mild stress levels.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAtti del «XXV Congresso della Società Italiana di Psicofisiologia e Neuroscienze Cognitive»
Pages8
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventXXV Congresso della Società Italiana di Psicofisiologia e Neuroscienze Cognitive - Roma
Duration: 16 Nov 201718 Nov 2017

Conference

ConferenceXXV Congresso della Società Italiana di Psicofisiologia e Neuroscienze Cognitive
CityRoma
Period16/11/1718/11/17

Keywords

  • Cognition
  • EEG
  • Mindfulness
  • Neurofeedback
  • Wearable devices

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