Mindfulness enhances episodic memory performance: Evidence from a multimethod investigation

Kirk Warren Brown, Robert J. Goodman, Richard M. Ryan, Bhikkhu Anâlayo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Training in mindfulness, classically described as a receptive attentiveness to present events and experiences, has been shown to improve attention and working memory. Both are key to long-term memory formation, and the present three-study series used multiple methods to examine whether mindfulness would enhance episodic memory, a key form of long-term memory. In Study 1 (N = 143), a self-reported state of mindful attention predicted better recognition performance in the Remember-Know (R-K) paradigm. In Study 2 (N = 93), very brief training in a focused attention form of mindfulness also produced better recognition memory performance on the R-K task relative to a randomized, well-matched active control condition. Study 3 (N = 57) extended these findings by showing that relative to randomized active and inactive control conditions the effect of very brief mindfulness training generalized to free-recall memory performance. This study also found evidence for mediation of the mindfulness training-episodic memory relation by intrinsic motivation. These findings indicate that mindful attention can beneficially impact motivation and episodic memory, with potential implications for educational and occupational performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0153309
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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