Meditation is a cognitive control exercise that enhances the self regulation of internal distractions, suggests Dr. Adam Gazzaley, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco. Emory University’s Wendy Hasenkamp and Larence Barsalon find that meditation seems to “flex” the neural circuitry for sustaining attention, an indicator of cognitive control.
Both these findings are part of Daniel Goleman’s May 12, 2014 The New York Times article “Exercising the Mind to Treat Attention Deficit”.
Cognitive control as defined by a spectrum of scientists according to Goleman is “the delay of gratification, impulse management, emotional self-regulation or self-control, the suppression of irrelevant thoughts, and paying attention or learning readiness”. Difficulties in these signify a lapses in cognitive control.
Cognitive control increases from the age of 4 to 12. It plateaus in the 20s. Impulsivity peaks at 16 years of age. Cognitive control wanes significantly in the 70s and 80s. Research indicates that meditation improves cognitive control and suggests more lasting effects than medications.