How musical and mindfulness intervention could lessen the effects of mental fatigue

Prolonged periods of cognitive activity could result in a subsequent decrease in overall cognitive function, physical exhaustion, and attention deficits. But the effects of brain over-activity causing mental fatigue may be profoundly reduced through music intervention and mindfulness, a new study found.

According to the study, published in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement, mental fatigue is a common factor contributing to a loss of productivity, weak cognitive performance and workplace accidents. However, a research team from the University of Southern Denmark determined that listening to binaural beats could improve such consequential effects. The team also focused on the mindfulness intervention approach.

“The main aim of the current study was to investigate whether two types of interventions, specifically mindfulness and music/binaural beats, could reduce the negative effects of mental fatigue on subsequent cognitive processing,” researchers stated.

“Recent studies show that individuals practicing mindfulness exhibit enhanced stress-coping and cognitive performance, including improved working memory and sustained attention. There is also evidence suggesting that using binaural beats increases sustained attention.”

The results were the subject of experimentation on four groups of participants: a mindfulness group comprised of beginners; an experienced mindfulness group; a musical group; and a control group.

Among all 90 participants, they were instructed to complete five phases of testing on the effects of mindfulness and music on mental fatigue.

“Phase 1 consisted of completion of the BRUMS and a measurement of mind wandering using the SART. Phase 2 consisted of an induced state of mental fatigue using the 90-min AX-CPT. Phase 3 consisted of another BRUMS completion. Subjects were subsequently asked to complete one of the two 12 min. on-the-spot interventions (mindfulness or binaural beats). Phase 5 consisted of another completion of the SART,” the findings state.

The effectiveness of mindfulness interventions was tested using an online-based application known as Headspace.

Based on the results, the experienced mindfulness group, in addition to the music group, were less impacted by mental fatigues compared to their counterpart. In particular, binaural beats was considered an efficient form of musical intervention for enhancing cognitive control.

Overall, the findings conclude that only 12 minutes of binaural beats and four weeks of mindfulness practices could be an excellent way to combat the effects of mental fatigue.

“The findings are discussed in terms of using music/binaural beats to enhance cognitive control, with similar effects as mindfulness.”

Image courtesy of Fotolia
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