What can we do to optimize and strengthen our attention and resilience?
In the face of depleting circumstances such as stress, professional demands, disease, trauma, or aging, strengthening attentional capacity and resilience offers a way to optimize performance in the face of increasing demands. Resilience in the face of high-stress conditions promotes the ability to perform well under cognitively and affectively demanding situations. Whether in the office, the battlefield, the classroom, or at home, focused attention and resilience in the face of oncoming demands are crucial to maintain top performance and productivity. Strengthening attention and resilience are critical to promote optimal functioning in many demanding circumstances, including:
- Academic and professional stress
- Athletics (Professional, Collegiate, & High School)
- Age-related degradation
In the Jha Lab, we investigate how attention and resilience may be modified with training, including mindfulness-based training techniques.
Current Projects in the Jha Lab involving Mindfulness Training
Here, we investigate novel delivery methods for mindfulness-based resilience training, especially ones that are more amenable to large-scale rapid dissemination. This will be a 4-year program of research in collaboration with the ROTC that examines the effectiveness of train-the-trainer methods of delivering training, involving non-expert trainers and technology-facilitated support.
In this study, we examine the amount of mindfulness training required to produce measurable benefits to cognition and well-being. Prior-to and following mindfulness training, participants will be tested on measures of attention, working memory, and the frequency and awareness of mind-wandering, among others. We are determining how much training is sufficient for an effect intervention, as well as shedding more light on what the specific outcomes of short-form mindfulness courses are.
Mindfulness Training in Military Spouses
Offering contemplative training to key individuals who comprise the ‘connective tissue’ of a community has the potential to improve not only the quality of well-being experienced by those individuals, but may provide positive contagion for the entire community. A prime example of this population in the military context is military spouses. Through collaboration with Margaret Cullen, we are investigating the benefits of mindfulness training for military spouses based at Fort Lewis, Seattle, WA.
Soldiers face incredibly demanding and high-stress situations in a much higher proportion than the everyday civilian population. Because of this, those in the military context could benefit extensively from training to increase resilience in the face of high-stress demands. Here, we offered mindfulness training to soldiers in a pre-deployment context. We are tracking the effects of this training over the course of the deployment cycle to identify the effects of mindfulness training over extended time periods, as well as in the initial high-stress time window.
Recent findings from the Jha Lab on this topic:
Baijal, S., Jha, A.P., Kiyonaga, A., Singh, R., & Srinivasan, N. (2011). The Influence of Concentrative Meditation Training on the Development of Attention Networks during Early Adolescence. Frontiers in Developmental Psychology. 2 (153): 1-9.
Van Vugt, M. & Jha, A.P. (2011). Investigating the Impact of Mindfulness Meditation Training on Working Memory: A Mathematical Modeling Approach. Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience. 11: 344-353.
Stanley, E. A., Schaldach, J. M., Kiyonaga, A., & Jha, A. P. (2011). Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training: A Case Study of a High-Stress Predeployment Military Cohort. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice. 18(4):566-576.
Jha, A.P., Stanley, E.A., Kiyonaga, A., Wong, L., & Gelfand., L. (2010). Examining the Protective Effects of Mindfulness Training on Working Memory and Affective Experience. Emotion, 10(1), 54–64.
Jha A.P., Krompinger J., & Baime M.J. (2007). Mindfulness training modifies subsystems of attention. Cognitive Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience, 7, 109-119.