Mindful awareness of feelings increases neural performance monitoring

Blair Saunders (Lead / Corresponding author), Achala H. Rodrigo, Michael Inzlicht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Mindfulness has been associated with enhanced performance monitoring; however, little is known about the processes driving this apparent neurocognitive benefit. Here, we tested whether focusing present-moment awareness toward the nonjudgmental experience of emotion facilitates rapid neural responses to negative performance outcomes (i.e., mistakes). In particular, we compared whether directing present-moment awareness toward emotions or thoughts would enhance the neurophysiological correlates of performance monitoring: the error-related negativity (ERN) and the error positivity (Pe). Participants were randomly assigned to either a thought-focused or an emotion-focused group, and first they completed a preinduction go/no-go task. Subsequently, the groups followed inductions that promoted mindful attention toward either thoughts or emotions, before completing a final postinduction go/no-go session. The results indicated that emotion-focused participants demonstrated higher neural sensitivity to errors in the time course of the ERN, whereas focusing on thoughts had no effect on performance monitoring. In contrast, neither induction procedure altered the amplitude of the later Pe component. Although our manipulations also induced changes in behavior, the ERN effects remained significant after controlling for performance. Thus, our results suggest that mindfulness meditation boosts early neural performance monitoring (ERN amplitude), specifically through meditation's influence on affective processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-105
Number of pages13
JournalCognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue number1
Early online date8 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Awareness
  • Brain
  • Electroencephalography
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meditation
  • Young adult
  • Journal article


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