Frequency-Domain EEG Dynamics During Single-Session Focused Attention Meditation With and Without Previous Training

Maarten A. Immink, Russell W. Chan, Andrew Corcoran, Phillip M. Alday, Kurt Lushington, Matthias Schlesewsky, Ina Bornkessel-Schlesewsky

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


Background: Focused attention meditation (FAM) is a style of meditation involving purposeful allocation of attention to one’s discrete object of experience, whilst monitoring for and inhibiting distractions. Recent behavioural and electrophysiology work has shown that FAM can increase cognitive control from single-session practise, and that effects persist to influence subsequent behaviour. Despite this, there is still little understanding of the frequency-domain dynamics of FAM states that support enhanced cognitive control. In addition, the influence of single-session FAM compared with increased training on electrophysiology is unknown. Therefore, we aimed to understand the effects of two levels of FAM training (single session versus training) compared to a non-FAM cognitive training control on resting state individual alpha frequency (IAF) and oscillatory power in the alpha and theta bands.

Methods: Twenty-nine meditation-naïve participants were randomised into three different cognitive training conditions: 21 sessions of FAM training (FAM-T, N= 12), a single-session FAM (FAM-S, N= 9) or no FAM exposure control (Control, N= 8). Continuous 64-channel electroencephalography (EEG) during FAM or control performance, were recorded at three different time-points (Baseline, Day 14 and Day 21) in the laboratory. We calculated IAF from eye-closed resting-state recordings and used it to determine each participants’ individual alpha and theta bandwidths for spectral power analysis. Subsequently, alpha and theta spectral power during cognitive training were extracted. The modulation in spectral power by training group, time-point, and region of interests (ROIs: grouped frontal, central and posterior electrodes) was analyzed using linear mixed-effects regression models.

Results: Firstly, we found that FAM training significantly increased theta spectral power during meditation practise across sessions and interacted with ROIs. Specifically, the effects were seen across frontal, central and posterior areas, whereby theta spectral power increased with meditation training. This increase was neither evident in single-session FAM, nor the control group performing a general listening task. Relative to the control conditions, ROI alpha spectral power was not influenced by a single session of FAM, even when preceded by training with the meditation technique.

Conclusions: Three weeks of FAM training appears to progressively increase theta power across the entire scalp, but neither single-session FAM nor control listening task practise did so. Future work could focus on how these effects are linked with mechanisms of attention and cognitive control benefits often observed from FAM training.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S100-S101
Number of pages2
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Issue numberSupplement
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021
EventProceedings of the 20th World Congress of Psychophysiology (IOP 2021) of the International Organization of Psychophysiology (IOP) - Virtual Conference
Duration: 7 Sept 202111 Sept 2021


  • mindfulness meditation
  • motor sequence learning
  • EEG


Dive into the research topics of 'Frequency-Domain EEG Dynamics During Single-Session Focused Attention Meditation With and Without Previous Training'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this