Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation
Psychological and Brain Sciences
Salmon, Paul Gregory
Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)
Stress (Psychology); Short-term memory; Self-consciousness (Awareness)
The neuropsychological domain of working memory and the nearly 3000 year-old Buddhist construct of mindfulness appear to be disparate concepts. However, the measurable decline of working memory capacity (WMC) under stress, in combination with the stress-reducing and attention-focusing effects of mindfulness suggest potential augmentation of working memory through the engagement of mindful practice. A theoretical process through which dispositional mindfulness exerts a moderating effect on WMC reduction following an acute stressor is proposed. To investigate processes within this theoretical framework, a sample of undergraduate college students (N = 67) were assessed across various measures, including level of dispositional mindfulness, affective state, WMC, and physiological indices. Participants were then presented with an acute emotional stressor, in the form of death and injury images of the International Affective Picture System (IAPS; Lang, Bradley, & Cuthbert, 2005). Following stress induction, participants were reassessed for WMC and affective changes. Scores on affective measures underwent significant changes from pre- to post-stressor in the predicted direction, while scores on a measure of WMC increased, in contrast to a priori predictions. Dispositional mindfulness was not found to play a mediational role in affective, cognitive, or physiological changes from pre- to post-stressor. Implications of analyses for the present study, as well as for future research, are discussed.
Vines, Lauren M., "Dispositional mindfulness and working memory in the context of acute stress." (2014). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 1493.