Sequential Behavior: Attention Focus Reaction Time

Table of Contents

The Goal of the Research

The goal of the study is to evaluate the proposal that a previous cognitive-focused sequence learning such as meditation could affect the ensuing sequence learning.

How the Goal Relates to My Research

Sequential behavior dominates most of our day-to-day activities. Acquiring sequential actions, which is crucial for a successful life, depends on the impact of perception and reasoning processes on learning, acclimatization, and representation. Apart from sequential actions, other types of goal-directed comportments such as cognitive-oriented tasks also use and subsequently shape cognitive control machinery (Chan, Immink, & Lushington, 2017). Reaction time, which may be defined as the time that elapses between receiving a stimulus and responding to it, is a cognitive process that is shaped by three main factors. These factors include perceiving the stimulus, focusing and comprehending the stimulus, and ultimately reacting to the impetus through motor actions. Therefore, factors that affect sequential behavior could as well have an impact on attention focus reaction time. For this reason, it is necessary to determine the impact of meditation, a cognitive-oriented task, on attentional regulatory processes.

Summary of Important Points

The subjects completed a single session of focused attention meditation (FAM), FAM and delay (FAM+), or no meditation before a serial reaction time task (SRTT). FAM led to an improvement in tasks involving early, haphazardly-ordered blocks when compared to the absence of meditation. Overall, FAM+ led to the greatest performance improvement in serial reaction time tasks. Performance after FAM+ demonstrated enhanced dependence on entrenched sequence structures relative to FAM. This observation shows that improved top-down restraint right after FAM prejudices the execution of stimulus-based planning. Bringing in a delay after FAM diminishes top-down restraint thereby permitting the execution of response-based planning, which brings about sequence learning gains. Incremental reductions in reaction times during training within a rooted sequence structure are responsible for the performance improvements in the SRTT. Nevertheless, since performance advances are also realized in training that lacks any basic sequential structure, other factors may also contribute to the observed gains.


Chan, R. W., Immink, M. A., & Lushington, K. (2017). The influence of focused-attention meditation states on the cognitive control of sequence learning. Consciousness and Cognition, 55, 11-25.

Ille, A., Selin, I., Do, M. C., & Thon, B. (2013). Attentional focus effects on sprint start performance as a function of skill level. Journal of Sports Sciences, 31(15), 1705-1712.

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