Date of Graduation

7-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Psychological Science

Advisor

Darya Zabelina

Committee Member

Connie Lamm

Second Committee Member

Jennifer Veilleux

Keywords

Attention, Cognitive Control, EEG, ERPs, Mindfulness, Physiological Psychology, Smartphone

Abstract

Barriers to accessing mobile technology, particularly smartphones, have decreased substantially since the iPhone’s release in 2007, resulting in increased ownership and usage across all ages, genders, and races. Despite their ubiquity in our society, relatively little empirical work has investigated the influence of smartphones on our higher order executive functioning. Prior work has linked smartphone use with impaired cognitive control during cognitively demanding tasks, especially in heavier smartphone users. The goals of the current study were twofold. First, the study aimed to examine the effects of smartphone notifications on cognitive control and attention. And second, to determine the effects of a mindfulness-based intervention on cognitive control and attention as a function of smartphone notifications. Participants were randomly assigned to an experimental group, who received a mindfulness-based induction (MBI), or a control group. Both groups completed a computerized task to assess cognitive control (Navon Letter task), while being exposed to smartphone notifications and control sounds. EEG data were recorded continuously during the task. Results indicated that people in the MBI (vs. control) group showed worse cognitive control in terms of both behavioral performance and N2 event -related potentials. Neural markers of attention (P2) were not different between the experimental and the control groups. However, P2 amplitudes were greater on trials with smartphone notifications, suggesting that smartphone notifications impact attentional processes. These findings provide an important contribution for understanding the effects of smartphones on our cognition and offer insight into the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions.

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