No Evidence of Improved Intelligence with Mindfulness Meditation or Brain-Training Combined with tDCS

Elkin-Frankston, S., Guarino, S., Romero, V., Lieberman, G., Hunter, M., Jones, A., Trumbo, M., Coffman, B., McCallion, E., Armenta, M., O’Sickey, A., Brown, D., Roos, C., Robinson, C., Combs, A., Witkiewitz, K., Clark, V., Schumacher, E., Bezdek, M.; Martin, N., Kumar, A., and Kaimal, A.

Poster presented at the Cognitive Neuroscience 23rd Annual Meeting, New York, NY (April 2016).

Measures of fluid intelligence are highly predictive of performance across a wide range of contexts, including academic performance and career success (Nisbett et al., 2012) and therefore strengthening fluid intelligence through brief intervention training would be of significant benefit. Despite evidence demonstrating a transfer effect from cognitive training to measures of fluid intelligence (Jaeggi, et al., 2008; Klingberg, 2010), a clear consensus to the benefits of cognitive training has yet to be reached. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of cognitive training in conjunction with transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) on improvements in generalized intelligence. This question was investigated in four labs using multiple intervention strategies, in four experimental conditions, including brain-training games with tDCS, mindfulness meditation with tDCS, an active control condition with tDCS, and an active control with sham tDCS. In all conditions anodal tDCS was applied to the right inferior frontal cortex. Training in conjunction with tDCS has been shown to magnify effects of cognitive training in a number of domains (Fregni et al, 2005; Clark et al, 2012). Mindfulness training teaches sustained attention and has been associated with improved selective attention (Jha et al., 2007), and working memory (Jha et al., 2010). Cognitive brain-training games have similarly been shown to target working memory, cognitive flexibility, and executive functioning (Jaeggi et al., 2008; Brehmer et al., 2012). Analysis showed no significant changes (p<0.01) in performance on measures of generalized intelligence following four weeks of intervention training in  among four experimental conditions (n=204).

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