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Skip to 0 minutes and 3 seconds NEIL BAILEY: So mindfulness improves executive function, which is the ability to control our attention, basically. This is important, for example, making a decision between a tempting and typical habitual behavioural response. For example, eating something sweet and making a self-controlled right choice type decision. So choosing to eat something healthy. Improved attentional control makes it easier for us to not make that habitual behavioural choice, and to choose the thing that aligns with our bigger picture goals. Cognitive tasks, like the attentional blink task, have indicated that when two stimuli are presented really quickly together in time, people often miss the first one. And they also don’t show really much brain activity at all associated with that first stimuli.

Skip to 1 minute and 8 seconds When people have practised a lot of meditation, however, they show the same brain activity for the first stimuli as the second stimuli. And also they’re able to respond to both. This is important for indicating that people who meditate a lot can identify things in the environment that other people might have missed. And so for example, if we’re making a really complex decision, and we require a lot of information, practising a lot of meditation will give you a better ability to notice and I guess show brain activity related to all the relevant information to make the decision.

Mindfulness for decision making

Watch Neil provide an overview of how practising mindfulness improves executive function, and how it impacts our decision making.

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This video is from the free online course:

Maintaining a Mindful Life

Monash University