Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mindfulness inhibits implicit learning -- the wellspring of bad habits

Date:
November 12, 2013
Source:
Georgetown University Medical Center
Summary:
Being mindful appears to help prevent the formation of bad habits, but perhaps good ones too. Behavioral and neuroimaging studies suggest that mindfulness can undercut the automatic learning processes, such as implicit learning.

Being mindful appears to help prevent the formation of bad habits, but perhaps good ones too. Georgetown Universityresearchers are trying to unravel the impact of implicit learning, and their findings might appear counterintuitive -- at first.

Related Articles


Consider this: when testing who would do best on a task to find patterns among a bunch of dots many might think mindful people would score higher than those who are distracted, but researchers found the opposite -- participants low on the mindfulness scale did much better on this test of implicit learning, the kind of learning that occurs without awareness.

This outcome might be surprising until one considers that behavioral and neuroimaging studies suggest that mindfulness can undercut the automatic learning processes -- the kind that lead to development of good and bad habits, says the study's lead author, Chelsea Stillman, a psychology PhD student. Stillman works in the Cognitive Aging Laboratory, led by the study's senior investigator, Darlene Howard, PhD, Davis Family Distinguished Professor in the department of psychology and member of the Georgetown Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery.

This study was aimed at examining how individual differences in mindfulness are related to implicit learning. "Our theory is that one learns habits -- good or bad -- implicitly, without thinking about them," Stillman says. "So we wanted to see if mindfulness impeded implicit learning."

That is what they found. Two samples of adult participants first completed a test that gauged their mindfulness character trait, and then they completed different tasks that measured implicit learning -- either the Triplet-Learning Task or the Alternating Serial Reaction Time Task test. Both tasks used circles on a screen and participants were asked to respond to the location of certain colored circles. These tasks tested the ability of participants to learn complex, probabilistic patterns, although test takers would not be aware of that.

The researchers found that people reporting low on the mindfulness scale tended to learn more -- their reaction times were quicker in targeting events that occurred more often within a context of preceding events than those that occurred less often.

"The very fact of paying too much attention or being too aware of stimuli coming up in these tests might actually inhibit implicit learning," Stillman says. "That suggests that mindfulness may help prevent formation of automatic habits -- which is done through implicit learning -- because a mindful person is aware of what they are doing."

Their findings are being presented at Neuroscience 2013, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgetown University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Georgetown University Medical Center. "Mindfulness inhibits implicit learning -- the wellspring of bad habits." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131112200625.htm>.
Georgetown University Medical Center. (2013, November 12). Mindfulness inhibits implicit learning -- the wellspring of bad habits. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131112200625.htm
Georgetown University Medical Center. "Mindfulness inhibits implicit learning -- the wellspring of bad habits." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131112200625.htm (accessed April 25, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Judge OKs 65-Year Deal Over NFL Concussions

Judge OKs 65-Year Deal Over NFL Concussions

AP (Apr. 23, 2015) A judge has approved a potential $1 billion plan to resolve thousands of NFL concussion lawsuits filed by retired players. The NFL expects 6,000 of nearly 20,000 retired players to suffer from Alzheimer&apos;s disease or moderate dementia someday.(April 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Research Says Complex Tools Might Not Be 'Our Thing' Anymore

Research Says Complex Tools Might Not Be 'Our Thing' Anymore

Newsy (Apr. 21, 2015) The use of complex tools has often been seen as a defining characteristic of humanity, but that notion is now in question. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers found a spike in oxytocin occurs in both humans and dogs when they gaze into each other&apos;s eyes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers who analyzed data from over 300,000 kids and their mothers say they&apos;ve found a link between gestational diabetes and autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins