School-based mental health promoting programs enhance neurocognitive skills: examining working memory and mindfulness practice

  • M. Lassander
  • M. Hintsanen
  • S. Mullola
  • Å. Fagerlund
  • S. Suominen
  • S. Volanen

Abstract

The presentation will focus on data from larger research project ’Healthy Learning Mind - cluster randomized controlled trial’. The study examines the effects of mindfulness intervention vs relaxation training on neurocognitive measures of executive functioning. Research has emphasized the importance of executive functioning in enhancing learning, social-emotional skills and adaptive behaviour. A total of 131 students between ages 12 and 15 participated from four schools. Schools were randomized to intervention and control group: mindfulness or relaxation based 9-week “Skills for Wellbeing” course. Participants completed a test-package aimed to measure cognitive skills that are relevant for executive functioning (EF) at baseline/pre-intervention, post-intervention at 9 weeks and follow-up at 6 months. Both groups improved significantly on majority of measures: response inhibition (RI), cognitive flexibility (CF) and verbal fluency (VF). The results were linked to personal practice. The results suggest that mindfulness and relaxation training yield mostly common effects to neurocognitive functioning but some unique effects are observable in terms of WMC. All effects can be observed after a short training period and demonstrate the potential of wellbeing enhancing interventions for youth, which have the potential of buffering stress and empowering the learning experience.
Published
2017-12-31
Section
Oral presentations