Volume 24, Issue 1 (Spring 2022)                   Advances in Cognitive Sciences 2022, 24(1): 160-172 | Back to browse issues page

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Sabouri S, Nazari M A, Feizi Derakhshi M R, Hashemi T. The effectiveness of mindfulness meditation on time perception using a temporal bisection task in a healthy female student population in Tehran. Advances in Cognitive Sciences. 2022; 24 (1) :160-172
URL: http://icssjournal.ir/article-1-1266-en.html
1- PhD Student in Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Neuroscience, University of Tabriz, Tabriz, Iran
2- Professor of Neuroscience, Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience, Faculty of Educational Sciences and Psychology, University of Tabriz, Tabriz, Iran
3- Associate Professor of Computer Engineering, Artificial Intelligence, Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Tabriz, Tabriz, Iran
4- Professor of Educational Psychology, Faculty of Educational Sciences and Psychology, University of Tabriz, Tabriz, Iran
Abstract:   (515 Views)
Perception of time and self-awareness and the study of related mechanisms are complex and fascinating components that have always aroused human curiosity. Perception of time refers to the mental experience of the passage of time. Each person understands time as the distance between events or the length of a particular event. Perceptions of different people from a fixed time can be different. The time perceived by the brain can be disrupted under certain conditions. In addition, these time constraints performed in some scientific studies help us better understand the mechanism of time perception. Perception of the passage of time is one of the fundamental experiences and structural units for other cognitive and behavioral processes, such as controlling movements in time. These findings has been confirmed in controlled experimental environments, as well as in assignments with high external validity.
In the classical Pace-maker-accumulator model, the number of pulses generated during the presentation of a time interval and the length of time experienced affect the perception of time based on attention and arousal. Decreased arousal leads to underestimating the time and increased attention to overestimating time.
Meditation increases inner guided attention and decreases arousal. Allocating more attention to the internal stimulus increases the size of these units, decreases arousal, and reduces the number of mental time units. Thus, the result of these two contrasting phenomena increase the perception of time.
Mindfulness has a different effect on the perception of time based on being a professional or a beginner and the time evaluated. Therefore, the current study evaluated the effect of mindfulness meditation on beginner subjects, i.e., people who have not yet experienced meditation, and their essential ability for such mental exercises was moderate. This study aimed to investigate the effects of mindfulness on time perception using an experimental group method. Moreover, the perception of time in short time intervals was examined with the bisection task.
One hundred forty-three undergraduate students with control variables, age 18-24 years, minimum diploma, no history of mindfulness exercises, normal or modified vision to normal (according to the subject), and right-handed were randomly selected and then filled the Freiburg questionnaire. Eighty-seven females with a mean age of 19.2 who were moderate in terms of mindfulness ability, subjects whose scores were between (-1Z - +1Z), were led to the next stage.
Primary participants' mindfulness abilities were assessed using the Freiburg mindfulness questionnaire. This questionnaire is used in the general population who do not have the opportunity to practice meditation. Its 14 items cover all aspects of mindfulness.
The number of participants with primary control variables was 87 females with a mean age of 19.2. Of these, 17 did not have the necessary cooperation to continue the research process and canceled their interviews. The remaining 70 people were invited for structured clinical interviews for DSM-5 (SCID-5-CV) disorders. The subjects were selected from the student population if there were no major psychiatric disorders, neurological disorders and other systemic diseases. There were 31 of them, and 16 people were randomly divided into experimental and 15 control groups.
The measured behavioral indicators were the percentage of extended responses, which is the ratio of long responses that the subject gives to stimuli presented or time intervals. This measure was generally calculated for each of the subjects in the two groups before and after implementing the independent variable, as well as for each of the bisection task conditions separately.
Bisection point, which is the interval in which the percentage of long responses is equal to 50% of cases, was calculated for each subject in the two groups before and after the implementation of the independent variable.
Reaction time, the time from the beginning of the visual stimulus display to the moment of the subject's response was considered as the individual's reaction time to each trial. This time was calculated for all valid responses and different stimulus conditions for all subjects and averaged for the experimental and control groups.
The experimental group listened to a 13-minute mindfulness audio file session and practiced it.  Mindfulness Meditation Practices were a 13-minute audio session containing mindfulness during scanning body and breathing instructions from the Williams and Penman Mindfulness Practices performed by the subjects. Subjects perform these practices while listening to the file.
A neutral audio file was presented to the control group. The temporal bisection task was presented before and after implementing the independent variable, and its findings were recorded. Then, with the ANCOVA & MANCOVA method, the present research examined the significant difference between the two groups regarding the percentage of long responses in different conditions of temporal bisection task, Bisection point (Bp) measure, and the measure of the behavioral variable of reaction time.
The researcher designed the temporal bisection task to assess the time perception and process the tests' temporal information. In this task, subjects are asked to compare the visual temporal stimuli presented with the two reference stimuli "short" and "long" that they memorized. In this task, stimuli with duration (400, 600, 800, 1000, 1200, 1400, 1600 milliseconds) are presented randomly. These stimuli are presented as a block of 168 trails, including 24 trails from each stimulus. The subject is asked to classify the presented temporal stimuli into two "short" and "long" categories.
These stimuli are the image of a gray oval (15 cm × 10 cm) that appears in the middle of the monitor screen. The interval between stimuli is randomly 1 to 2 seconds. This task includes two stages of learning and one stage of the test. The subject performs the task alone in the test phase without the examiner's presence. All answers are given with the right index finger. Responsive click allocation to stimuli was counterbalanced.
The experimental group scored significantly lower in the Bp measure than the control group. Also, the percentage of Plongs in this group increased significantly compared to the control group. This significant difference was observed primarily in condition 5 in the experimental group. Long responses are the ratio of the long responses that the subject gives to the stimuli presented or at different time intervals, which indicates an overestimation of time following the effect of mindfulness training. In this study, the measure of the behavioral variable of reaction time, which is a behavioral indicator of improving the decision-making process, was also measured. Reaction time is the time between the presentation of the visual stimulus to the time of the subjects' response to each of the visual stimuli and statistical analysis of the comparison of this index in different test conditions. Furthermore, in the two groups, no significant difference was observed between the experimental and control groups.
The results of this study were analyzed based on the hypothesis that mindfulness overestimates time by decreasing the level of arousal and increasing the sources of attention to internal stimuli. To investigate the effect of mindfulness in the decision-making process, it seems that evaluation and spectral analysis of brain wave changes and behavioral responses are essential.
According to the internal clock model, the overestimated effect of mindfulness is also interpreted based on the effect of attention and reduced arousal. It seems that increasing the concentration of inward attention leads to more attention to time processing and increasing the size of the pulses and compensates for the effect of reducing the level of arousal.
Ethical Considerations
Compliance with ethical guidelines
The consent form approved by the University of Tabriz was obtained from all participants, and the form was attached. The task steps were explained to the subjects before the beginning of each step, and permission was sought from the subjects for all required physical contact. Travel expenses were provided, and they would be paid if the subjects were accepted. In the end, the subjects would be appreciated with a gift.
Authors’ contributions
Mohammad Ali Nazari, Mohammad Reza Feizi Derakhshi, and Turaj Hashemi: Ideation and research design. Shahnaz Sabouri: Has done all the performance steps, sampling.
This research has been done at personal expense.
The present article is the PhD dissertation of the first author of this article (dated 2018/09/19 with the number 17/33419). We would like to thank Maryam Houri Pasand: Making a two-part time task and performing it, Behzad Gholizadeh: Statistical processing, and Homa Hashemi: Copyediting. The authors would also like to thank the Faculty of Educational Sciences and Psychology of Tabriz University for conducting this research.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declared no conflict of interest.
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Type of Study: Research |
Received: 2021/03/18 | Accepted: 2022/01/5 | Published: 2022/05/10

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