Mindfulness training as cognitive training in high-demand cohorts: An initial study in elite military servicemembers

Anthony P. Zanesco, Ekaterina Denkova, Scott Rogers, William K. MacNulty, Amishi P. Jha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Cognitive ability is a key selection criterion for entry into many elite professions. Herein, we investigate whether mindfulness training (MT) can enhance cognitive performance in elite military forces. The cognitive effects of a short-form 8-h MT program contextualized for military cohorts, referred to as Mindfulness-Based Attention Training (MBAT), were assessed. Servicemembers received either a 2-week (n = 40) or 4-week (n = 36) version of MBAT or no training (NTC, n = 44). Sustained attention and working memory task performance along with self-reported cognitive failures were assessed at study onset (T1) and 8-weeks later (T2). In contrast to both the NTC and 2-week MT groups, the 4-week MT group significantly improved over time on attention and working memory outcome measures. Among the 4-week more so than the 2-week MBAT participants, working memory performance improvements were correlated with their amount of out-of-class MT practice. In addition to these group-wise effects, all participants receiving MBAT decreased in their self-reported cognitive failures from T1 to T2. Importantly, none of these improvements were related to self-reported task motivation. Together, these results suggest that short-form MT, when delivered over a 4-week delivery schedule, may be an effective cognitive training tool in elite military cohorts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalProgress in Brain Research
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018


  • Attention
  • Cognitive training
  • Mindfulness
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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