Measuring Cognitive Outcomes in Mindfulness-based Intervention Research: A Reflection on Confounding Factors and Methodological Limitations


One potential pathway by which mindfulness-based meditation improves health outcomes is through changes in cognitive functioning. Here, we summarize and comment upon three systematic reviews conducted over the last seven years that have had the goal of identifying the impact of mindfulness on cognitive outcomes. In our analysis, we identified a number of methodological limitations and potential confounding factors that interfere with and limit our ability to interpret the results. In order to gain a granular view of the relationship between mindfulness training and cognition, we report on the following: 1) What do we know? How does mindfulness affect cognition? 2) variable criteria that define an MBI; 2) limitations of assays used to measure cognition; and 3) methodological quality of an MBI trial and reporting of findings. Finally, we offer constructive means for interpretation and recommendations for moving the field of mindfulness research forward regarding effects on cognition.

Last updated on 06/14/2019