Enhanced declarative memory in long-term mindfulness practitioners

Limor Shemesh, Avi Mendelsohn, Daniel Yochai Panitz, Aviva Berkovich-Ohana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Mindfulness meditation (MM) practice is considered to benefit physical and mental health. In particular, several studies have shown a beneficial effect of MM practice on memory performance. However, it is still not clear how long-term training affects long-term declarative memory. In this study we aimed to examine whether long-term MM training impacts declarative memory formation for diverse memoranda types, as well as the role of trait mindfulness, and the possible mediating role of anxiety. Methods: We examined long-term memory performance in 23 experienced MM practitioners and 22 meditation-naïve age-matched individuals, by administering a variety of declarative memory tests, ranging from item recognition to narrative and autobiographical memory recollection and future projection. The participants also filled the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). Results: Compared to the control group, long-term MM practitioners exhibited heightened memory performance for the picture recognition test and experienced enhanced vividness during autobiographic memory retrieval and future simulations. We also report a significant trait mindfulness and memory performance correlation, stemming exclusively from the Mm group. Conclusions: Our findings extend previous reports of the beneficial effect of a short-term MM training on memory performance, by showing the beneficial effect of long-term training on declarative memory. We also provide initial evidence that trait mindfulness is positively correlated with declarative memory performance, as a function of MM practice, and discuss these findings in light of the role of self-mode and cognitive diffusion, as well as attention and emotion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-307
Number of pages14
JournalPsychological Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the Bial foundation Grant 93/18 to A. Berkovich-Ohana and Israeli Science Foundation (ISF) Grant #603/15 to A. Mendelsohn.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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