Mindfulness and the cognitive neuroscience of attention and awareness

Zygon 45 (3):627-646 (2010)
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Abstract

Mindfulness can be understood as the mental ability to focus on the direct and immediate perception or monitoring of the present moment with a state of open and nonjudgmental awareness. Descriptions of mindfulness and methods for cultivating it originated in eastern spiritual traditions. These suggest that mindfulness can be developed through meditation practice to increase positive qualities such as awareness, insight, wisdom, and compassion. In this article we focus on the relationships between mindfulness, with associated meditation practices, and the cognitive neuroscience of attention and awareness. Mindful awareness is related to distributed attention, phenomenal consciousness, and momentary self-awareness, as characterized by recent findings in cognitive psychology and neuroscience as well as in influential consciousness models. Finally, we outline an integrated neurocognitive model of mindfulness, attention, and awareness, with a key role of prefrontal cortex

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