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Wednesday, December 08, 2021
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Home is where the Wisconsin Badger football blanket is. First-year undergraduate Erin Wendt settles in with her laptop computer to study in the Women In Science and Engineering (WISE) den in Sellery Residence Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison during the evening of April 17, 2013. In the background are fellow WISE residents Bailee Stark, left, and Maria Bakker. The photograph was created for #UWRightNow, a 24-hour multimedia and social-network project. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)

UW-Madison research indicates meditation can improve attention span

A study published April 18 by Scientific Reports journal, conducted by UW-Madison researchers, indicated that short meditation exercises can help improve the attention span of those who multitask with different forms of media.

Meditation exercises as simple as sitting quietly and counting breaths can greatly improve attention spans, according to Thomas Gorman, the first author of the study.

“In general, people perform better after this mindfulness task,” Gorman said in a university release. “They improved even more on tests of their attention.”

C. Shawn Green, UW-Madison psychology professor and senior author of the study, said that though the short-term results are significant, the improved attention span eventually fades.

“We know that the beneficial effects aren’t long lasting in this case, as they didn’t carry over across days,” Green said in the release. “However, one thing the presence of the short-term effects suggests is that the attentional system in heavy media multitaskers isn’t intractably affected. It is possible for heavy media multitaskers to adopt a more focused attentional state.”

Both researchers said they plan to keep studying the effects of meditation to determine if the exercise can be modified to produce lasting results. 

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