Relationship Between Mindfulness And Psychological Well-being

Research shows that memory is constructive in nature. Due to the fact that the act of recalling a memory can change or be modified, we know that distortions and illusion are capable and have a tendency to occur in human memory. These often result from the incorporation of false or incorrect information into memory from outside sources. In Creating a False Memory in the Hippocampus (2013), the researcher explored whether artificially activating a previously formed contextual memory while simultaneously delivering shocks to the participants foot could result in the modification or creation of a false fear memory.

Cognitive studies in humans have reported exponential activity in the hippocampus during the recall of both real and false memories (Ramirez, Liu, Lin, Suh, Pignatelli, Redondo, Ryan, & Tonegawa, 2013). The results showed that cells activated previously in the hippocampal Dentate gyrus (DG) region could also serve as a functional conditioned stimulus (CS) in a fear-conditioning model. When reactivated artificially during the delivery of an unconditioned stimulus (US).

The result was the formation of a false associative fear memory to the CS that was not naturally available at the time before the US delivery. This was consistent with previous findings that high- frequency stimulation of the prefrontal path, an input to DG, could serve as a CS in a conditioned suppression model (Ramirez, Liu, Lin, Suh, Pignatelli, Redondo, Ryan, & Tonegawa, 2013)

It is important to note that some research shows a positive relationship between mindfulness and psychological well-being (Keune, & Forintos, 2010). The role of the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) as an appropriate measure can be supported due to the association of attentiveness being an essential feature of mindfulness.

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According to the research in Mindfulness Meditation: A Preliminary Study on Meditation (2010), the participants were two groups, those who meditated and those who did not. Those who scored high on the MAAS, scored high as well on other scales of well-being. Participants who engaged in meditation practices reported a higher emotional well-being. An association between mindful activities and well-being outcomes (Keune, & Forintos, 2010).

It is hypothesized that mindfulness does in fact have an impact on the memory. The following articles show evidence of such. The results, in Minding the source: The impact of mindfulness on source monitoring (2017), showed that the participants who performed the mindfulness meditation presented better source monitoring compared to controls. The participants who practiced mindfulness were better at indicating the source of their information in memory. In addition, the study wanted to see how, if possible, eye witness testimonies could be more accurate with mindfulness practice. The results showed that mindfulness training could help the individuals accurately discriminate between the sources of different memories related to the scene. be able to discriminate the accurately However, the study showed that mindfulness did not result in enhanced memory performance.

On the other hand, if mindfulness indeed enhances the encoding of information, the information is more likely to be related to the source or acquisition processes, rather than the specific details of the witnessed event (Alberts, Otgaar, & Kalagi, 2017). Therefore, if people attribute more resources to the encoding of the details of an event, their memory performance will more likely increase. The conclusion of the article was that mindfulness practice may entail an effective way to circumvent memory distortions due to incorrect source monitoring. This showed that practicing mindfulness before being exposed to different sources of information enhanced participants’ ability to assign the stored information in memory to the right source at a later time (Alberts, Otgaar, & Kalagi, 2017). In addition, there seems to be a relationship between mindfulness and effective emotion regulation. Mindfulness was sought to positively affect eyewitness accuracy under highly stressful situations.

In a similar research, The Effect of a Brief Mindfulness Intervention on Memory for Positively and Negatively Valenced Stimuli (2011), The study addresses the effect on memory by mindful awareness in respect to negative and positive valence stimuli. A verbal learning test composed of words positive, negative, and neutral were given to participants who we exposed to a concise mindfulness intervention. As a result a significantly lower percentage of negative words were remembered and recalled by the participants in the mindfulness group than in the control group. However, there wasn’t a significant difference in the participants of those who remembered positive words. The end finding shows the possibility of memory processes as an underlying potential mechanism in the link between subjective well-being and mindfulness. (Alberts, & Thewissen, 2011). Similarly, Rosenstreich’s (2016) article, suggested that practicing mindfulness for five 20-minute daily sessions resulted in better allocation of attentional resources as compared to a non-practicing control group. This practice was also found to increase the ability to ignore distracting stimuli, to enhance working-memory capacity, and to improve the retrieval from episodic memory (Rosenstreich, 2016).

Another study in Alberts, & Thewissen (2011), article revealed that emotional stimuli are processed by the amygdala. Low amygdala reactivity was shown when participants who had high trait mindfulness were exposed to emotional stimuli. A significantly smaller proportion of negative words were recalled by the participants under the mindfulness group than the participants in the control group (Alberts, & Thewissen, 2011). We can conclude that the amygdala reactivity is positively related to depressive symptomatology and negatively correlated with dispositional mindfulness.

Another research, A Brief Mindfulness Exercise Before Retrieval Reduces Recognition Memory False Alarms (2016), examined the effects of mindfulness meditation training over a 4-day period on behavioral markers of cognition and mood. These training significantly increased cognitive tasks including verbal fluency and skills that required sustaining attention or executive processing fluency (Lloyd, Szani, & Rubensteins, 2016).

This study showed that mindfulness training did, in fact, improve cognitive performance in the working memory capacity, improve reading comprehension scores and reduced distracting thoughts in the GRE. Similar to the results in Minding the source: The impact of mindfulness on source monitoring (2017), mindfulness exercise in the context of eyewitness memory may decrease false accusations. However, it won’t improve recognition of actual perpetrators (Lloyd, Szani, & Rubensteins, 2016).

Similarly, in Mindfulness and False-Memories: The Impact of Mindfulness Practice on the DRM Paradigm, mindfulness practice increased the retrieval rate of true memories without affecting the rate of spontaneous false- memories.

Calvillo, Flores, & Gonzales, (2018) article concluded mindfulness affects recognition decisions rather than encoding of memories. The mindfulness induction before encoding may have increased mindfulness during encoding, but by the time participants completed a 3-min control task and the recognition test, their mindfulness scores were not significantly different from the control group (Calvillo, Flores, & Gonzales, 2018).

The findings in experiment 1 in the research conducted by Baranski, & Was, (2017), indicated that warning participants of potentially recalling critical items reduced the likelihood of false recalls. In experiment 2, they wanted to determine if the mindfulness or mind wandering inductions may affect the outcome of the Deese-Roediger-McDermott -paradigm (DRM) in comparison to the controlled group. Participants in the mindfulness group were significantly less likely to falsely recall the critical item after the induction than prior to the induction.

Consequently, there was no observation in the increase in false memories following mindfulness meditation, nor did a significant difference in false memories between mindfulness, mind wandering, or control groups(Baranski, & Was, 2017). However, they did observe that participants who were given a warning significantly reduced their number of critical item recalls. In addition, there was a significant reduction in false memories following mindfulness meditation in one of the experiments. The results indicated that mindfulness meditation did increase the likelihood of false memories, as opposed to providing a warning about the DRM paradigm to participants who could better control their attention was found to decrease the likelihood of false memories(Baranski, & Was, 2017).

Although the results in Mindfulness and False-Memories: The Impact of Mindfulness Practice on the DRM Paradigm, indicated increased retrieval of true memories, it also indicated that that participants in the mindfulness groups became more susceptible to provoked false-memories than participants in the control group (2016). Mindfulness increases false recollection. Hence, whereas mindfulness may seem to be a useful method for eyewitnesses to prepare for testimony, such as indicated in Minding the source: The impact of mindfulness on source monitoring (2017), it may also promote the integration of unrelated semantic cues, which may lead to false reconstruction of memory (Rosenstreich, 2016).

The study conducted by Qi, Zhang, Hanceroglu, Caggianiello, & Roberts, (2018), assessed whether an extended period of mindfulness practice increased adolescents’ susceptibility to false suggestions of an experienced event. A few researchers believed that mindfulness could enhance memory if individuals’ awareness was increased as well. On the other hand, research also shows individuals who practice mindfulness could be more susceptible to false information because mindful practice emphasizes being nonjudgmental and accepting of incoming information. Hence, potentially reducing the attention given to information that helps discriminate true and false sources.

The findings in A Brief Mindfulness Induction After Encoding Decreases False Recognition in the Deese-Roediger-McDermott Paradigm (2018), suggest that a brief mindfulness induction after encoding, but before retrieval, reduces false memories in the DRM paradigm by making one’s response decision criterion more conservative. If mindfulness occurs before encoding, studies have shown the increase of false memory. However, if inducted after encoding, false memory decreases (Calvillo, Flores, & Gonzales, 2018).

According to Brainerd, Stein, et al. (2008), remembering negative events can stimulate high levels of false memory, relative to remembering neutral events. Further research demonstrated that although emotional and neutral false-memory items differed in valence, they also differed in arousal. This provoked the study to create materials in which valence varied, but arousal was controlled (Brainerd, Stein, Silveira, Rohenkohl, & Reyna, 2008).

The findings of the study above indicated that participants displayed more false memory for negative critical distractors than for neutral ones, and more false memory for neutral critical distractors than for positive ones. Valence also had the same directional effect on true memory, but the effect was smaller. True memory exceeded false memory for items with positive and neutral valence, but not for items with negative valence. However, negative valence, relative to positive or neutral valence, elevated both true and false memory, while lowering response bias. (Brainerd, Stein, Silveira, Rohenkohl, & Reyna, 2008).

In conclusion, the study above showed that remembering emotionally negative word lists can stimulate levels of false memory that substantially exceed those for neural lists. Only negative valence has such an effect. Positive valence was protective with respect to memory distortion and levels of false memory were lower for positive than neutral items (Brainerd, Stein, Silveira, Rohenkohl, & Reyna, 2008).

The experiment conducted in the article, Negative Mood Reduces Negative False Memories After a Brief Mindfulness Exercise, showed that mindfulness and mood had little overall effect on false memory for neutral lures. Negative mood reduced the false recognition of negative lures only for those in the mindfulness condition (Meeks, Taul, Rice, Posey, & Harper, 2019). This study concluded that mindfulness meditation reduces false memory only when a negative mood and negative lures were present.

Results from these studies have shown to be a mix. On one side, mindfulness induction increased memory errors at immediate retrieval and on the other side, mindfulness practice was not associated with false memories at the immediate interview (Qi, Zhang, Hanceroglu, Caggianiello, & Roberts, 2018). Due to this, Lloyd decided to use a different design where the mindfulness exercise would be presented after the presentation of the to-be-remembered word list and before the recognition test.

The study, conducted in The influence of mindfulness on young adolescents’ eyewitness memory and suggestibility (2018), investigated the effects of mindfulness on adolescents’ event memory and suggestibility by using an “extensive” 8‐week mindfulness program, an active control group, and a participatory to‐be‐remembered event. The findings resulted that those in the mindfulness condition incorrectly reported more false information compared with those in the control group. Mindful practice did not affect memory encoding but did have a negative effect during retention and retrieval. As a result, adolescents who are exposed to mindfulness exercises may be susceptible to memory intrusions (Qi, Zhang, Hanceroglu, Caggianiello, & Roberts, 2018). In an overview, eyewitness memory has a higher chance to be inaccurate when those individuals have participated in mindfulness training. Nevertheless, these results shouldn’t discourage those who use this practice for personal benefits such as mental or emotional health.

According to the results, Negative Mood Reduces Negative False Memories After a Brief Mindfulness Exercises, neither the mindfulness induction nor mind wandering induction interacted with a warning to reduce the number of critical items falsely recalled or increase the number of correct recalls in comparison to the other induction. Mindfulness meditation can protect individuals from false-memory susceptibility but won’t increase false-memory. In the study conducted by Rosenstreich, (2016), mindfulness showed to increase false remembrance. On the other hand, mindfulness can promote the integration of unrelated semantic cues which then leads to false reconstruction of memory (Rosenstreich, 2016).

Due to the mixed findings, we can conclude that there is not enough information on the effects of mindfulness in false memories. Our hypothesis is inconclusive as well, although mindfulness and false memory are a newer research topic research shows that mindfulness is beneficial as a practice on it’s own to improve cognitive performance in the working memory capacity, improve reading comprehension score, but not enough information is presented to make a conclusion on the impact of false memories. Although there seems to be a relationship between mindfulness and effective emotion regulation. Research also shows that mindfulness before retrieval produces a more conservative response bias, thus reducing false memory rates. However, with all the mixed conclusions in various research we are unable to form a concrete conclusion of whether mindfulness has an impact on false memory overall.

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Relationship Between Mindfulness And Psychological Well-being. (2022, May 11). Retrieved from

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