An exciting recent advance in the lab’s research agenda has been an examination of the impact of meditation and mindfulness techniques on attenuating mind-wandering.  Conceptually speaking mind-wandering, which entails the mind’s drifting away from the here and now, can be conceived of as something akin to the opposite of mindfulness, in which the mind is focused on the present.  A recent article by Mrazek, Smallwood, and Schooler (2012) demonstrated that individuals who show a penchant for mindfulness (as measured by a variety of pre-existing self report measures) are less inclined to mind-wander in the laboratory.   Perhaps even more importantly this study further demonstrated that a simple technique for enhancing mindfulness (attending to the breath for 10 minutes) reduces the behavioral consequences of mind-wandering.    We are also extremely encouraged by results of a recent meditation training study (Mrazek et al, 2013) in which undergraduates received either a two week meditation class or a two week nutrition class.  Comparisons between performance on pre and post test measures of both mind-wandering and reading comprehension revealed a marked reduction in mind-wandering and improvement in reading performance for participants in the meditation training condition, but no change for participants in the nutrition condition.  


Selected Publications


Jonathan Schooler

My lab’s research takes a “big picture” perspective in attempting to understand the nature of mental life, and in particular consciousness. Combining empirical, philosophical, and contemplative traditions, we address broad questions that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Michael Mrazek

Michael Mrazek, Ph.D. is the director of research at the University of California's Center for Mindfulness & Human Potential. His research identifies innovative ways to increase the effectiveness of mindfulness training, particularly in high schools. He also tests the limits of how much a person can improve through intensive evidence-based training programs that target health, mindfulness, and self-control. 

Alissa Mrazek

Alissa’s research investigates the roles of mindsets and self-regulatory strategies on cognitive and affective malleability. Another focus of her research explores the fidelity and efficacy of mindfulness-based training programs

Leandro Calcagnotto

Leandro earned his dual-BA in psychology and communication from UCSB in 2013. He has research experience in the fields of social, developmental, and school psychology, as well as media neuroscience in communication. He has experience implementing interventions for children with developmental disorders and in emergency medical treatments. He also has experience in clinical trials research in neurology. His research interests are in neuroplasticity, flow states, attention, mental performance, and cognitive training.

Abbey Holman

Abbey earned her B.A.’s in Psychology and Sociology from UC Santa Barbara in 2017. After working in the META Lab at UCSB for a year, she joined the Center for Mindfulness and Human Potential as a research Post-Bac to work on the Mindful Education Initiative. Abbey is primarily interested in examining the effects that mindfulness and meditation interventions have on cognitive abilities, emotion regulation, and overall well-being.

Theo Masters-Waage

Theo graduated from the University of Bristol with a BSc in Experimental Psychology in 2016. After working in a range of different labs at the Universities of Bristol, Reading and Oxford, he has now joined the UCSB team to assist with the Mindful Education Initiative. As a life long practitioner of meditation and mindfulness, he is deeply fascinated by how a relatively simple practice can have such a profound effect on our mind and its underlying neural structures.

Luke Buchanan

Luke graduated in 2017 with his degree in biopsychology. Luke is assisting Elliot Ihm with his fMRI and goosebumps studies. He is also working with local biofeedback specialists and is investigating how technology can assist in meditation. Luke's main interest is promoting wellbeing through presencing (which he thinks should be a word).

Amanda Low

Amanda is a fourth year Psychology major assisting Madeleine Gross with her research. She is interested in mindfulness, creativity, and meditation.