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

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

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

11 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)
Title of host publicationMeditation
EditorsNarayanan Srinivasan
PublisherElsevier B.V.
Number of pages32
ISBN (Print)9780444642271
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Publication series

NameProgress in Brain Research
ISSN (Print)0079-6123
ISSN (Electronic)1875-7855


  • Attention
  • Cognitive training
  • Mindfulness
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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