Tag Archives: mind wandering

Evidence-Based Stress Management – Music – Part 4 of 5

Many people intuitively turn to music when they want to regulate energy and mood.

Valorie Salimpoor

Valorie Salimpoor

Listening to music evokes sympathetic nervous system activity, a sign of emotional arousal measured by changes in heart rate, respiration, electrodermal activity, body temperature, and blood volume pulse, according to Rotman Research Institute’s Valorie Salimpoor, McGill’s Mitchel Benovoy, Gregory Longo, Jeremy Cooperstock, and Robert Zatorre.

Mitchel Benovoy

Mitchel Benovoy

The researchers asked twenty-six participants to select and listen to “pleasurable” music and researchers selected “neutral” music for participants based.
Pleasure ratings and emotional arousal measures were strongly related, and those who did not experience pleasure also showed no significant increases in emotional arousal.

Gregory Longo

Gregory Longo

This finding suggests that listening to preferred music can be used as a mood-enhancement and stress management approach.

Lori Gooding

Lori Gooding

Kentucky University’s Lori Gooding and Olivia Yinger validated music’s stress management benefits for surgical patients.
They found that listening to music can reduce anxiety, subjective pain, and requests sedative medication following surgery.

Olivia Yinger

Olivia Yinger

Slow music expedited relaxation and reduced pain, suggesting that music tempo, rhythm and volume can contribute to reduced anxiety, improved treatment experiences, with lower medical costs in medical intensive care units.

Nick Perham

Nick Perham

Besides managing stress, listening to background music before task performance can increase attention and memory by evoking arousal and positive mood, according to Nick Perham and Joanne Vizard, then of University of Wales Institute Cardiff.

Joann Vizard

Joann Vizard

However, listening to music during a task decreased serial recall among adult volunteers, again pointing to the value of listening to music before but not during tasks that require acute concentration.

Kristie Young

Kristie Young

Beyond passively listening to music, performing music by singing during a complex task can decrease performance.
Monash University’s Genevieve Hughes and Kristie Young with Christina Rudin-Brown of Transport Canada found that singing while performing complex, attention-requiring task increases mental workload and distraction.

Christina Rudin-Brown

Christina Rudin-Brown

They asked participants to learn the lyrics two popular songs, then sing them while operating a simulated car during a 6.6 km urban trip with four speed zones and encountering expected and unexpected traffic events.

Volunteers who sang while “driving” scanned their visual field less often, focused on the area directly ahead (“cognitive tunnelling”), and were less aware of potential hazards during a peripheral detection task (PDT).
However, singing reduced “driving” speed and enabled volunteers to maintain position in their “lanes.”

Efforts to compensate for the increased mental workload associated with singing and listening to music appeared ineffective, suggesting that listening to music during complex tasks impairs performance.

Jim Blascovich

Jim Blascovich

In contrast to performance-disrupting impact  of listening to music while performing complex tasks, SUNY Buffalo’s Karen Allen with Jim Blascovich of University of California, Santa Barbara reported that surgeons worked more quickly and accurately when they listened to preferred music, and physical stress was reduced, indicated by cardiac and electrodermal autonomic responses, hemodynamic measures.
Those who listened to no music did not perform as quickly and accurately as those who listened to their preferred music.

Stress-reducing and performance impacts of music appear related to both personal musical preferences, and musical temp and genre.

Leigh Riby

Leigh Riby

Northumbria University’s Leigh Riby found that “uplifting” music can boost mental alertness, attention and memory.

Volunteers pressed a keyboard space bar when a green square appeared on screen but not when they saw different-colored circles and squares under two conditions: in silence and while listening “uplifting” concertos (Vivaldi’s Four Seasons).

Riby measured brain activity with an EEG and found that participants responded accurately more quickly when listening to the ”uplifting” Spring concerto in contrast to performing with no music or the slower, more somber Autumn concerto.
The Spring concert “seemed to give rise to particular imagery in the brain and evoke positive, contented feelings which translated into higher levels of cognitive functioning,” according to Riby.

The underlying mechanism of music’s effects on attention, concentration, and performance is dopamine release in response to music that elicited “chills” or ‘‘musical frisson” — changes in skin conductance, heart rate, breathing, and temperature that were correlated with pleasurability ratings of the music.

Alain Dagher

Alain Dagher

Salimpoor and her McGill team, including Kevin Larcher and Alain Dagher, used PET and fMRI brain imaging techniques to measure anticipation and consumption of music as a reward, and demonstrated that volunteers who listen to preferred, “pleasurable” music experience greater release of dopamine, which is associated with emotional arousal and pleasurability ratings.

This is one of the first demonstrations that an abstract, cognitive, non-tangible reward can lead to dopamine release, and that different brain circuits are involved in anticipating (caudate) and experiencing (nucleus accumbens) musical tension and resolution.

Teresa Lesiuk

Teresa Lesiuk

University of Miami’s Teresa Lesiuk reported improved task speed, performance, and new ideas with information technology specialists who listened to preferred music.

She attributed these positive effects to reduced stress and improved mood, and found that people who were moderately skilled at their jobs benefited most, but experts experience no benefit.
Consistent with findings that music can be a distraction in cognitively-demanding tasks, novices found that music undermined performance.

Amit Sood

Amit Sood

When people’s minds wander, music can help focus on the present moment, according to Amit Sood of Mayo Clinic, who advocates music’s value in developing and reinforcing Mindful Attention – another approach to managing stress.

 -*When does music in the workplace reduce stress? Increase performance?

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RELATED POSTS

Motivation to Manage Stress

Mindful Attention (Part 2)

Social Support (Part 3)

Music (Part 4)

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Look for related posts on:

  • Vitamins and Probiotcs (Part 1)
  • Mindful Attention (Part 2)
  • Social Support (Part 3)
  • Physical Exercise (Part 5)

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Evidence-Based Stress Management – Mindful Attention – Part 2 of 5

Workplace stress reduces employees’ ability to concentrate and pay attention to work, but mindfulness training can enhance these skills while reducing stress.

Matthew Killingsworth

Matthew Killingsworth

Inattentiveness and distraction are both frequent and unpleasant, according to Harvard’s Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert.
They surveyed more than 2,000 adults, who reported that 47 percent of the time, their focus was not on their current activities.
In addition, these volunteers reported being less happy when distracted.

Lee Ann Cardaciotto

Lee Ann Cardaciotto

Another way to measure distraction and attentiveness is The Philadelphia Mindfulness Scale, developed by La Salle University’s Lee Ann Cardaciotto and James Herbert, Evan Forman, Ethan Moitra, and Victoria Farrow of Drexel University.
This tool provides a baseline measure of potential need for stress management and mindfulness training, and can demonstrate impact of training.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Current approaches to stress management training are typically based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which trains participants to focus on breathing, which slows respiration and heart rate, and triggers the “relaxation response.”

Wendy Hasenkamp

Wendy Hasenkamp

Using these frameworks, Emory’s Wendy Hasenkamp, Christine Wilson-Mendenhall, Erica Duncan, and Lawrence Barsalou investigated the neurological activity during distraction and mind-wandering experiences using fMRI scans of 14 meditators.

Participants focused on breathing and pressed a button when they realized their minds were wandering, then returned focus to the breathing.
Scans pinpointed active brain regions before, during, or after the button press.

Erica Duncan

Erica Duncan

Hasenkamp and team proposed four intervals in a cognitive cycle, based on button-pressing patterns:

  • Mind wandering (default mode activity), controlled by the medial prefrontal cortex, leading to  self-focused thoughts
  • Awareness of mind wandering (attentional subnetworks)
  • Shifting of attention (executive subnetworks)
  • Sustained attention (executive subnetworks).
Lawrence Barsalou

Lawrence Barsalou

These experienced meditators disengaged attention and deactivated medial prefrontal cortex more quickly after identifying mind-wandering, suggesting that their mindfulness practice helped them voluntarily shift from perseverative, ruminating thoughts.
They demonstrated increased connectivity between default mode and attention brain regions, enabling less default mode activity while meditating.

Britta Hölzel

Britta Hölzel

Besides reducing stress, mindfulness meditation trains attention, improves working memory, fluid intelligence, introspection, and standardized test scores, according to Britta Hölzel team at Harvard and Justus Liebig Universität Giessen.
In addition, mindfulness meditation has shown beneficial results in comprehensive treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and sexual dysfunction.

Fadel Zeidan

Fadel Zeidan

Hölzel’s group conducted anatomical magnetic resonance (MR) images for 16 volunteers with no previous mindfulness meditation experience before and after they participated in the 8-week training program.
Gray matter concentration increased in the meditators’ left hippocampus, posterior cingulate cortex, temporo-parietal junction, and cerebellum, areas responsible for learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.

Further support for mindfulness meditation’s value in reducing perceived stress and anxiety comes from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Fadel Zeidan.
His study identified brain areas activated and deactivated during meditation and participants reported that anxiety decreased by 39 percent during practice.

Norman Farb

Norman Farb

Mindfulness meditation training modifies the way people experience themselves over time and in the present moment, according to University of Toronto’s Norman Farb and six collaborators.
The team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine monitoring of two self-reference processes:  Focus on enduring traits (’narrative’ focus) or momentary experience (’experiential’ focus).

They compared participants with no previous meditation experience, and volunteers who completed an 8-week mindfulness meditation training to increase attention on the present.

Herbert Benson

Herbert Benson

Brain scans of inexperienced and experienced meditators differed significantly in tasks that required these two forms of self-awareness: the self across time and in the present moment.
These two experiences are usually integrated but can be dissociated through mindfulness attention training.
Results suggest that mindfulness training enables people to focus on the present moment without the distraction of intrusive, ruminative thoughts which can increase stress.

Manoj Bhasin

Manoj Bhasin

Mindfulness-based stress management has significant long term effects by modifying gene expression.
Harvard’s Herbert Benson, who led research on “the relaxation response” almost four decades ago, along with colleagues including Harvard’s Manoj Bhasin and Abbott Northwestern Hospital Jeffery Dusek and four others, assert that meditation evokes “a specific genomic response that counteracts the harmful genomic effects of stress.”

Jeffrey Dusek

Jeffrey Dusek

Genes associated with inflammation and stress are less active and those involved in energy metabolism, mitochondrial function, insulin secretion and telomere maintenance are activated.

Bhasin, Dusek and team measured peripheral blood transcriptome in experienced and inexperienced meditators before and after they listened to a relaxation response-inducing tape or a health education message.

Both short-term and long-term practitioners showed significant temporal gene expression changes with a greater effect among the experienced meditators.

This and other research evidence supports the effectiveness of mindfulness attention training as a stress management practice.
Mindful attention training enables people to voluntarily control body processes like respiration and heart rate, which reduces perceived stress.
The practice can induce calm thoughts that reciprocally reduce the physical expressions of stress.

Jonathan Smallwood

Jonathan Smallwood

Like other stress management techniques, this practice requires willingness and commitment to take full advantage of benefits demonstrated in lab studies.

If efforts to cultivate mindfulness falter, mind-wandering or “self-generated thoughts” can be channeled away from self-referential worries to enable creativity problem-solving and planning.

Jessica Andrews-Hanna

Jessica Andrews-Hanna

Max Planck Institute’s Jonathan Smallwood and Jessica Andrews-Hanna of University of Colorado argue that “a wandering mind helps project past and future selves.”

Thomas Suddendorf

Thomas Suddendorf

Similarly, University of Queensland’s Thomas Suddendorf and Michael Corballis of University of Auckland posit that this hindsight and foresight enables experience and memory integration into a sense of self through this “mental time travel.” 

Michael Corballis

Michael Corballis

University of California, Santa Barbara’s Benjamin Baird collaborated with Jonathan Smallwood and four colleagues to evaluate the impact of mind-wandering on a creativity task during a demanding task, rest, or an undemanding task.

Benjamin Baird

Benjamin Baird

They found that engaging in an undemanding task during an incubation period led to substantial performance improvements, suggesting the value of mind-wandering to develop creative solutions.

Although mindfulness training has been reliably associated with effective stress management, even moments of mind-wandering can be channeled to productive ends in creative problem-solving.

-*How applicable are mindfulness attention training practice for workplace stress?

Follow-share-like www.kathrynwelds.com and @kathrynwelds

RELATED POSTS

Motivation to Manage Stress

Mindful Attention (Part 2)

Social Support (Part 3)

Music (Part 4)

Nature

Sleep

Organizational Roles, Practices

Look for related posts on:

  • Vitamins and Probiotcs (Part 1)
  • Social Support (Part 3)
  • Music (Part 4)
  • Physical Exercise (Part 5)

Twitter:  @kathrynwelds
Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary
Google+:
LinkedIn Open Group Psychology in Human Resources (Organisational Psychology)
Facebook Notes:

©Kathryn Welds