App optimizes meditation length to improve attention and memory

Adam Gazzaley and UCSF colleagues have developed a focus-driven digital meditation program that improved attention and memory in healthy adults in a recent study.

MediTrain tailors meditation session length to participant abilities, and challenges users to increase session time. Subjects received significant benefits in 6 weeks.  On their first day, they focused on their breath for an average of 20 seconds. After 30 days, they were able to focus for an average of six minutes.

According to Gazzaley: “We took an ancient experiential treatment of focused meditation, reformulated it and delivered it through a digital technology, and improved attention span in millennials, an age group that is intimately familiar with the digital world, but also faces multiple challenges to sustained attention.”

At the end of each segment, participants were asked whether they paid continuous attention for the allotted time.  The app adapted  slightly longer meditation periods for those who said yes, and shorter ones for those who said no. The team believes that  user participation contributed to the app’s usefulness.

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