Mindfulness Meditators Do Not Show Differences in Electrophysiological Measures of Error Processing

Neil W. Bailey*, Kavya Raj, Gabrielle Freedman, Bernadette M. Fitzgibbon, Nigel C. Rogasch, Nicholas T. Van Dam, Paul B. Fitzgerald

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Mindfulness meditation may improve attention and self-regulation. One component of attention and self-regulation that may allow these improvements is performance monitoring. Neural correlates of performance monitoring can be objectively measured with electroencephalogram (EEG) via the error-related negativity (ERN) and error positivity (Pe). Previous research assessing the ERN and Pe in meditators has resulted in inconsistent findings; some have reported alteration in peak amplitudes from both very brief meditation practice and long-term meditation practice, while others have failed to provide evidence for differences in the ERN or Pe. However, recently developed EEG analysis techniques allow for more rigorous analyses than have been used in past investigations. Methods: The current study measured the ERN and Pe, as well as post-error alpha suppression, during a Go/Nogo task, and emotional and colour Stroop tasks. The measures were compared between 22 experienced meditators (mean of 8 years of practice) and 20 healthy controls. Results: The results suggested no differences in the ERN, Pe, or post-error alpha suppression (all p > 0.05), even when varying multiple analysis parameters. The study showed equivalent statistical power to previous research, and > 85% power to detect medium effect sizes present in previous research. Bayes Factor analysis indicated the null hypotheses were > 3.5 more likely than any of the alternative hypotheses for the ERN or Pe. Conclusions: These results suggest that meditation may not alter neural activity related to error processing, despite prior research suggesting that it does.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1360-1380
Number of pages21
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


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