A reciprocal relation between attention and awareness is crucial for adaptive behavior. However, for investigating these relationships could be important to take into consideration the different components that constitute the attentional system. According to Posner and Petersen’ model (Posner, 1994; Posner and Petersen, 1990), three different cognitive functions could be distinguished in human attention which are sub-served by three independent (although coordinated) neural systems: alerting responses, orienting to sensory stimulation and executive control of performance. The Alerting network is aimed at achieving and maintaining a state of high sensitivity to incoming stimuli and is related to the performance in tasks that involve both phasic and tonic alertness; the Orienting network is involved in the selection of information from the sensory input; the Executive control network is defined as involving the mechanisms for resolving cognitive conflict. As mindfulness meditation has been described as “the intentional cultivation of a non-judgmentally awareness that arise through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment” (Kabat-Zinn, 1990; Kabat-Zinn, 2003), a putative candidate mechanism for its effects is a modification in attentional processing. This doctoral dissertation analyses the influence of mindfulness meditation on attentional performance. More specifically, in Chapter 1, theories and models of attention are introduced subdivided in four macro areas: Selective attention, Divided attention, Search and Signal detection and vigilance. In addition, Posner’s model of attention is presented as the main core of this final work. This model, one of the most influent in attention literature, postulates that distinct areas of the brain underlie distinct attentional processes. In 2002, Fan and collaborators developed the Attention Network Test (ANT) in order to measure these attentional functions separately. Finally, a series of evolutions of this task, that have been proposed and developed in the last decades, are described in detail. In Chapter 2, mindfulness definition is introduced together with its historical background. Buddhist roots and Western Psychology overlap in theory and practice. Operational definition and the three-component model of mindfulness are important constructs that permit us to specify each component in terms of specific behaviors, experiential manifestations, and implicated psychological processes (Bishop et al., 2004). Furthermore, in Western world, mindfulness-based interventions are becoming widely accepted methods of addressing the symptoms associated with many commonly experienced mental health problems and/or emotional disorders. Although these approaches involve mindfulness techniques, there are small differences between each modality that are here described in detail. Moreover, self-report assessments of mindfulness are convenient and efficient and can provide reliable and valid information if they are well constructed for the populations in which they will be used. The most important mindfulness questionnaires are described, highlighting the assessment used in this dissertation: the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ; Baer et al., 2006). Finally, neuroscience of mindfulness is introduced as a new way to explore whether and how our brain is affected by this kind of practice. In Chapter 3, two experiments are presented. The main goal of Experiment 1 is to investigate attention improvements of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction training (MBSR; Kabat-Zinn, 1990) compared to a Control group, using the Attention Network Test for Interactions-Vigilance (ANTI-V; Roca et al., 2011), that includes a direct measure of executive vigilance together with the classical attentional networks, introduced above, with the intent to better understand awareness strategies used by our attentional system. The aim of Experiment 2 is to assess the relationship between mindfulness facets of FFMQ and the Attention Network Test for Interactions-Vigilance. In Chapter 4, two more experiments are presented. The main goal of Experiment 3 is to replicate results from Luna et al., (In preparation). The authors designed a task (Attention Network Test for Interactions and Vigilance - executive and arousal components (ANTI-Vea) that could measure simultaneously the functioning of the typical attentional networks (phasic alertness, orienting and executive control), together with two different components of vigilance (executive –detection of infrequent signals-, and arousal –immediate reaction without response control-). The aim of Experiment 4 is to investigate whether and how FFMQ mindfulness facets interacts with attentional performance using ANTI-Vea task. Finally, a general discussion is presented. The general discussion focuses on overall results from the four experiments introduced above together with limitations and future directions.
|Titolo:||Attentional networks and mindfulness: investigations through multiple indexes|
|Data di discussione:||25-set-2017|
|Appartiene alla tipologia:||07a Tesi di Dottorato|